Novartis Says Experimental Drug Quells Gout Attacks, Pain

Novartis AG said that an experimental antibody relieved pain and stopped new attacks of gout better than a steroid injection in two advanced studies.

The company reported results from clinical trials on more than 450 patients who didn’t benefit from medicines like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or couldn’t take them, Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis said in an e-mailed statement today.

Novartis has asked regulators in the European Union, the U.S., Canada and Switzerland to clear the drug, known as ACZ885, for gout sufferers with few treatment options. The medicine is approved in more than 45 countries for a rare disorder called Cryopyrin-Associated Periodic Syndromes, or CAPS. Andrew Weiss, an analyst with Bank Vontobel AG in Zurich, estimates gout sales may reach $700 million a year.

The product represents the first test of a broader Novartis strategy to “develop a drug in a small indication and then expand it usage into larger therapeutic areas,” Weiss said in a note to clients today. He recommends buying Novartis stock.

The drug may be approved in the U.S. by September for gout, Trevor Mundel, Novartis’s head of drug development, said in a telephone interview today. It may garner more than $1 billion in peak sales with indications for CAPS, gout and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, according to Mundel.

The drug improved pain scores by 25 percent to 30 percent and cut the risk of additional gout attacks by 55 percent to 68 percent compared with a steroid called triamcinolone actinide in the studies, according to the statement.

Gout, also known as gouty arthritis, affects about 6.1 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Attacks are triggered by high levels of uric acid in the blood, which lead crystals to form in the fluid between joints, causing swelling and inflammation.

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