Drug Development

Novartis boasts a big new advantage for Cosentyx as data indicate the blockbuster can modify psoriasis

Vas Narasimhan

Novartis got a big lead on the fast-changing psoriasis market when it grabbed an approval for Cosentyx more than 18 months ago, putting it well ahead of rivals rushing through late-stage programs. Now, the pharma giant $NVS is looking to consolidate its hold on the lead role for new therapies with some remarkable data suggesting the drug could act as a disease modifier for a significant group of patients.

In new data presented today, investigators say Cosentyx “may modify the course of moderate-to-severe psoriasis leading to long-term, treatment-free skin clearance.” And that’s a first for any IL-17A therapy.

New data show that in a full year following the end of treatment, 21% of patients retained clear skin. After two years, 10% were able to remain symptom free.

Novartis also concluded that the data indicate that an earlier start to therapy improves a shot at disease modification.

That’s a big deal in this field. Cosentyx broke the $1 billion revenue mark last year as Eli Lilly lined up an approval for Taltz and Valeant managed an OK for Siliq. Siliq, though, comes with a black box warning on suicidal thinking. The next big entry here will likely be from J&J, which only a few days ago reported its final harvest of positive Phase III data for guselkumab.

Novartis now has some added data that will help keep sales revenue pointed north.

“These results suggest that Cosentyx may go beyond simply treating symptoms and could actually modify the course of psoriasis, and highlights the need for further investigation into early intervention,” said Vas Narasimhan, Global Head, Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer, Novartis. “Being able to change the course of disease is the ultimate goal of treatment, which is why we are investing in the STEPIn trial to further understand the disease modifying ability of Cosentyx in psoriasis.”

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