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J&J beats Novartis’ blockbuster rival in a head-to-head showdown over the psoriasis market

Score a round in the battle of the psoriasis blockbusters for J&J.

The pharma giant heralded a win for their head-to-head study of Tremfya (guselkumab) against Novartis’ dominant rival Cosentyx. Researchers said that 84.5% of the psoriasis patients taking their IL-23 drug hit a PASI90 score at 48 weeks, compared to 70% for the IL-17 drug Cosentyx.

That bodes well for ongoing late-stage studies of their drug in psoriatic arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Lead study investigator Richard Langley, though, also added that the data “confirm a slightly more rapid onset of response with Cosentyx,” while touting their win for longterm durability. 

The picture on key secondaries was more mixed, with J&J’s drug edging out the Novartis rival on PASI75 at 12 and 48 weeks, which was not statistically significant.

Cosentyx has been the drug to beat ever since Novartis wrangled its first landmark approval for the drug. And it’s essential for the pharma giant, earning $750 million in Q3, up 37%.

Novartis quickly rushed to the defenses of its top new drug, setting up a call with reporters covering the field. 

“The important thing is to put it in context,” commented Eric Hughes, global development unit head for the Immunology, Hepatology and Dermatology unit. Novartis has data from more than 100 studies, covering scalp, hands, joints and much more, he adds. That data should safeguard the franchise, according to Novartis, but don’t look for anyone at J&J to agree with that.

The showdown between these two therapies, though, is far from over. Novartis has its own Phase III trial in the works, intent on protecting a major new franchise.

Meanwhile, Gilead and Galapagos have been touting their come-from-behind progress with filgotinib. The crowded autoimmune field also includes Eli Lilly’s Taltz, Siliq from the biotech formerly known as Valeant and Dupixent from Sanofi and Regeneron.


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Sr. Manager, Regulatory Affairs, CMC
CytomX Therapeutics San Francisco, CA
Marketing Associate - Demand Generation
Catalytic Data Science Charleston, SC
Associate Principal, Life Sciences Partnerships
Flatiron Health New York City or San Francisco

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