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Novartis Drug for Smoker’s Cough Boosts Lung Function in Study

Novartis AG’s experimental drug for smoker’s cough helped patients in a late-stage trial, and was at least as good as a treatment sold by Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH and Pfizer Inc.

In a trial among 1,066 people, those receiving a daily dose of Novartis’s drug, known as NVA237, over 12 weeks were able to expel significantly more air from their lungs in one second than those who got a placebo, and more than those taking Boehringer and Pfizer’s Spiriva. The results were published in a summary of data scheduled to be presented at a conference this month.

The inhaled drug, which Novartis licensed from Vectura Group Plc in 2005, may garner sales of $400 million if approved, Alistair Campbell, an analyst at Berenberg Bank in London, wrote in a note today. Novartis applied for regulatory approval for the drug in Europe under the brand name Seebri Breezhaler. Approval in the U.S. will be delayed after regulators asked for more information, the company has said.

“Even ignoring the U.S. market, NVA looks like a good mid-sized opportunity for Novartis,” Campbell wrote.

Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis is also testing NVA237 as part of a two-drug combination called QVA149 that may achieve sales of $905 million in 2018, according to the average of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

In the so-called GLOW2 trial, patients taking NVA237 were able to expel an average of 97 milliliters more air in one second than those on placebo. Those taking Spiriva expelled 83 milliliters more. After a year, patients on NVA237 expelled an average of 108 milliliters more than the placebo group, compared with 89 milliliters for those on Spiriva.

The company said in June that the trial had shown NVA237 was superior to placebo, without giving details. The data will be presented at the American Thoracic Society in San Francisco on May 21.

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