Lilly says Taltz superior to Humira in late-stage psoriatic arthritis trial

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

(Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co said on Monday its psoriatic arthritis drug, Taltz, was found to be more effective than the world’s best-selling prescription medicine, AbbVie Inc’s Humira, in a late-stage trial.

The trial was the first of its kind to test Taltz and the standard-of-care, Humira, head-to-head in patients with active psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis.

The study showed Taltz was as effective as Humira in improving the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, as measured by achieving a reduction in disease activity of at least 50 percent, compared with patients that showed such results on Humira after 24 weeks.

However, the drug was found superior to Humira in clearing skin completely in a greater number of patients and achieving both results simultaneously, Lilly said.

“This is a very, very high hurdle to meet and gives doctors confidence that they can prescribe Taltz as a treatment for newly diagnosed patients. It treats joints as well as provides the added value of clearing skin,” Lotus Mallbris, vice president of immunology development at Lilly, told Reuters.

Lilly’s Taltz was first approved in the United States in 2016 for treating plaque psoriasis and had total revenue of about $560 million in 2017. The Indianapolis-based drugmaker said it planned to present detailed data from the study in 2019.

Humira has been the top-earner for AbbVie since the company was spun off from medical device maker Abbott Labs more than five years ago. Last year, the drug brought in worldwide sales of $18 billion, accounting for about two-thirds of AbbVie’s net revenue.

However, Humira’s sales are expected to come under pressure with a number of biosimilar versions set to hit the market.

Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva