Drug Development

Novartis chief Jimenez touts two top PhIII drug prospects

Joe Jimenez. Novartis

Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez has been busy giving interviews at Davos this week.

In a sit-down with Reuters the Basel-based exec noted that Trump’s tax policies could help set the stage for building new manufacturing facilities in the US. And he also tapped two late-stage drugs as among his favorites in the pipeline.

Those two favorites are CTL-019, the pioneering CAR-T that Novartis is steering to a near-term application at the FDA, and BAF-312 for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Novartis, which looks for any clinical shortcut it can find to shorten the time it takes to reach regulators, is exploring now if it can go ahead and file early for BAF-312 based on a single Phase III study.

Investigators for the pharma giant turned up at the annual meeting of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis last fall to say that they tracked a 21% reduction in the risk of disability progression in the drug arm, comparing it to the placebo group. They also mapped a “significant” improvement in patients’ annualized relapse rate but failed to see the data pan out for an improvement in a 25-foot walking test, a classic way to check for improvements in physical function.

“We have a number of catalysts that are coming,” Jimenez told Reuters. “From the end of 2017 we will be completely out from under that genericization and the company should enter its next growth phase beginning in 2018.”

In the meantime, Jimenez is expecting to see growing pressure on drug pricing.

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