Novartis Smoker’s Cough Treatment Beats Glaxo’s Advair in Trial

Patients taking Novartis AG (NOVN)’s experimental once-daily treatment for smoker’s cough showed a significant improvement in lung function over those on an existing medicine marketed by GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK), which is also developing a successor drug.

Patients taking Novartis’s QVA149 were able to expel 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) more air from their lungs in one second than those receiving Glaxo’s best-selling Advair after 26 weeks of treatment, according to a summary of data from a trial dubbed “Illuminate” to be presented at the European Respiratory Society annual meeting next week.

The result “underscores the upside potential for QVA149 to take material market share in lung disease,” Andrew Baum, an analyst at Citigroup Inc., said in a note to investors today.

QVA149 is designed to improve lung function by targeting receptors to open up the airways. Smoker’s cough, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affects at least 64 million people according to the World Health Organization, which predicts the condition will become the third-leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.

Novartis announced in April that patients taking its medicine had better lung function than those taking the Glaxo treatment in the Illuminate study, without quantifying the advantage.

Glaxo’s Competitor

Glaxo and partner Theravance Inc. (THRX) are competing with Novartis by developing their UMEC/VI treatment, which also targets receptors to open up the airways.

In a study of UMEC, twice daily dosing showed no advantage over once daily dosing, according to the summary on the conference website of a separate study. Glaxo sees once daily dosing as a major benefit to patients in providing convenience and boosting adherence to the treatment regimen.

While better patient responses resulted from higher doses of UMEC, the summary did not detail the magnitude of the difference in efficacy.

“Previous dose-ranging studies and our due diligence suggest a risk that lower UMEC doses could give a similar magnitude of effect,” Baum said.

This may result in U.S. regulators requesting additional lower-dose studies, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net; Simeon Bennett in Geneva at sbennett9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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