Novartis $NVS believes that it still has a long way to go in developing the blockbuster immunology market that it has on tap for Cosentyx. And their campaign to continue to expand on the $2 billion the pharma giant reaped from the drug last year is getting a boost today with the release of two new rounds of data on the durability of the drug in maintaining a better quality of life for patients and it’s efficacy in treating a particularly nettlesome form of psoriasis.
Slightly more than half of the patients achieved a PSSI 90 score — near complete clearance — of scalp psoriasis after 12 weeks of treatment in the most recent data to surface on the IL-17A drug. And the positive numbers — confirming earlier results already published — was boosted to 59% at 24 weeks after non-responders got a bump in their dose.
This “adds to hands and feet data and adds to our understanding of what we showed before in nails,” says Eric Hughes, global development franchise head, immunology and dermatology at Novartis. And it’s a key issue for 60 million psoriasis patients who have to deal with scalp inflammation, which is generally not so easy to treat with lotions.
On a much broader basis, Cosentyx already proved at year one that 72% of the patients in their SCULPTURE study were living with no impact from plaque psoriasis on their quality of life — a major endpoint for a disease that has a damaging impact on patients’ ability to enjoy life. And after 5 years, the same figure had shrunk only a few points, down to 65.5%.
“Quality of life, that’s probably one of the most exciting parts of this,” says Hughes. “We can clear the skin, but there’s so much more than just these skin indications.”
This new data help highlight the importance of the drug for patients’ interactions with people, their emotional status, seemingly small things like how they dress for work, which can be far more important to a patient, says Hughes.
Novartis has done more than 60 clinical trials on Cosentyx, nailing down a broad range of data to back their drug as rivals from Eli Lilly (Taltz), with big plans to up the ante on the data they’re collecting; J&J (Tremfya) and Valeant (Siliq) gun for a share of the market. And it’s not done yet. New markets are being pursued for psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The key objective here is continuing to build revenue while holding back the rivals in this market, and the leader in the field shows no serious signs of wilting in the race — yet.
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