Eli Lilly's Taltz beats J&J's Tremfya in psoriasis head-to-head — but the marketing brawl is just beginning
Eli Lilly has come out swinging at J&J, staking out its challenger position in a crowded battle of plaque psoriasis blockbusters.
In a Phase IV head-to-head study with 1,027 patients, Lilly says its IL-17A inhibitor Taltz beat J&J’s IL-23/p19 drug Tremfya on complete skin clearance at week 12 as defined by PASI 100. It’s the first direct comparison of these two classes using PASI 100 as a primary endpoint, Lilly says, though it also shows that Taltz is consistently superior in measures of PASI 50, PASI 75 and PASI 90 at multiple (although not all) time points — comprising a number of “key secondary endpoints.”
The numbers are reserved for future scientific meetings and journals. Meanwhile, investigators are still tracking and analyzing data on the proportion of patients maintaining PASI 100 after 24 weeks.
“Lilly’s goal is to raise the treatment bar for people living with psoriasis,” said Lotus Mallbris, vice president of immunology development. “And research shows that patients want clear skin and rapid improvements.”
Notably, J&J ran its own head-to-head against Cosentyx and heralded a win late last year for Tremfya, which helped a higher proportion of patients achieve a 90% reduction in PASI scoring than Novartis’ dominant rival. Researchers said that 84.5% of the psoriasis patients taking Tremfya hit a PASI 90 score at 48 weeks, compared to 70% for Cosentyx.
Cosentyx, also an IL-17 drug, has accrued $1.6 so far this year. In comparison, Taltz — which was first approved in 2016, a year later than Cosentyx — has scored $606.5 million, while Tremfya (approved yet another year later) counted $452 million.
But the race is far from over. As the entrance of new competitors and indications complicate the picture, Lilly will have to beat more than just J&J, which also has Stelara in its arsenal. AbbVie is now in the psoriasis game, looking for a come-from-behind win with Skyrizi. And Taltz still has a long way to proving itself in psoriatic arthritis as well as non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, a key arena Lilly is angling to enter.