Pfiz­er, No­var­tis tie up to tar­get NASH in crowd­ed field

As late-stage NASH read­outs of In­ter­cept $ICPT, Gilead $GILD and France’s Gen­fit (Eu­ronext: GN­FT) loom, Pfiz­er $PFE on Mon­day an­nounced plans to tack­le the so far un­treat­ed fat­ty liv­er dis­ease with No­var­tis $NVS for a piece of the multi­bil­lion dol­lar mar­ket that has long gen­er­at­ed fever­ish in­ter­est from small and big drug­mak­ers alike.

NASH is char­ac­ter­ized by a buildup of ex­cess fat in the liv­er that in­duces chron­ic in­flam­ma­tion and even­tu­al­ly cul­mi­nates in scar­ring that can lead to cir­rho­sis, liv­er fail­ure, can­cer and death. The dis­ease, which is typ­i­cal­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with obe­si­ty and di­a­betes, is set to eclipse he­pati­tis C as the lead­ing rea­son for liv­er trans­plants by 2020. Dubbed the silent dis­ease, it is hard to di­ag­nose in the ear­ly stages, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to es­ti­mate its preva­lence, but stud­ies show that it af­flicts up to 12% of the adult pop­u­la­tion in de­vel­oped coun­tries. Al­though there are no ap­proved drugs for the dis­ease, the size of the NASH mar­ket is ex­pect­ed to cross $20 bil­lion by 2025.

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