Locking horns with AbbVie, J&J boasts post-TNF data for next-gen drug Tremfya in psoriatic arthritis
In a battle of giants, J&J and AbbVie have locked horns for years with their competing IL-23 drugs, both looking to take the helm as the next-gen immunology blockbuster of choice. With a leading two indications under its belt, J&J’s Tremfya is adding a new round of data to the fold in psoriatic arthritis, this time after anti-TNFs like Humira.
Psoriatic arthritis patients with prior inadequate response to TNF inhibitors posted significantly better joint improvement and complete skin clearance on J&J’s Tremfya compared with placebo after six months of therapy, according to data from the Phase III/b COSMOS study presented Wednesday at the virtual EULAR meeting.
For patients in the Tremfya arm, 44.4% hit at least an ACR20 score, a measure of joint improvement from baseline, compared with 19.8% on placebo. Meanwhile, the drug also showed a significant improvement in skin clearance, with 30.8% of Tremfya patients hitting a clearance marker compared with 3.8% on placebo.
J&J is touting the results as a first-of-its-kind showing an IL-23’s effect on reducing symptoms of active PsA in patients who didn’t previously benefit from anti-TNFs like Humira. The drug is the first in its class approved for both PsA and psoriasis.
The newest data is a direct shot across the bow at AbbVie, which sports megablockbuster Humira at the top of its portfolio with its own next-gen IL-23, Skyrizi, which is working up its own application in psoriatic arthritis as well as a slew of other immunology indications.
In going after older drugs like Humira, J&J is angling to make Tremfya the switching drug of choice, hoping to pull a fast one on Skyrizi, which would obviously like to soak up most of those patients who don’t show much benefit on the AbbVie giant.
Up until recently, Tremfya was locked in battle not only against Skyrizi but also Eli Lilly’s investigational mirikizumab in an ever-widening proxy war. But in April, Lilly decided to walk away from its pursuit of psoriasis, citing stiff competition, narrowing its focus around ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
AbbVie, for its part, just released new Crohn’s data showing a one-year, follow-up win for Skyrizi as a maintenance therapy. It’s one of many indications Humira currently holds that AbbVie is trying to take its next-gen immunology pipeline.