BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) - Novartis is increasingly confident about the potential of its new injectable drug Cosentyx, as fresh clinical data confirms its long-term benefits in treating psoriatic arthritis.
Cosentyx was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January for treating the painful skin condition plaque psoriasis, but the company also has high hopes for the product in related conditions.
Trial results published in the medical journal The Lancet on Monday showed the drug acting rapidly on psoriatic arthritis and, significantly, that its efficacy was sustained over one year. The treatment is given once a month.
The length of response is important because older biotech drugs known as anti-TNFs, which are used to treat such conditions, can lose their effectiveness over time.
Novartis had already shown two-year benefits from Cosentyx in psoriasis and one-year effects in ankylosing spondylitis, another long-term inflammatory disease.
The drugmaker believes its product could achieve peak annual sales of $4 billion to $5 billion - considerably more than consensus forecasts by analysts of $1.8 billion in 2020 - thanks to its broad potential against all three related diseases.
“These are sizeable indications,” Vas Narasimhan, global head of development for Novartis Pharma, told Reuters.
“The global market for biological drugs in these diseases is around $12 billion to $13 billion and growing at a double-digit rate. So when you look at the profile Cosentyx has demonstrated, we believe we can generate the data for this drug to be used as first-line treatment across these indications and achieve that sales level.”
Following its launch against psoriasis, the Swiss drugmaker recently filed for U.S. and European approval of Cosentyx in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, paving the way for use in those conditions next year.
Cosentyx is the first in a new class of IL-17A inhibitors, which target a protein linked to inflammation. Other companies are working on similar medicines, but the competition is diminishing.
Amgen last month pulled out of a collaboration to develop its compound brodalumab with AstraZeneca after suicidal thoughts were observed in patients taking the medicine.
That leaves Eli Lilly, which aims to submit its drug ixekizumab for approval shortly, as Novartis’s main rival.
Editing by Larry King