• Cosentyx began working sooner with similar safety level
  • Comparative data important for payers, drugmaker says

Novartis AG said its psoriasis treatment controlled patients’ skin plaques longer than a rival therapy in a clinical trial.

The Swiss drugmaker’s Cosentyx was more effective than Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara in a study of about 670 people, as measured by the Psoriasis Area Severity Index, Novartis said in a statement. Cosentyx also began working sooner than Stelara, with a similar level of safety, Novartis said.

“Generating stronger comparative data is very important in the current payer environment,” said Vasant Narasimhan, the company’s global head of drug development, in a phone interview. “We are trying to expand the comparative data we have to show Cosentyx should be a first-line product.”

About 76 percent of those receiving Cosentyx in the study met a treatment goal as measured by the severity index after 52 weeks, compared with about 61 percent of Stelara patients, Novartis said. Almost 46 percent of Cosentyx patients had clear skin after a year of therapy, compared with almost 36 percent for Stelara patients.

The results are being presented at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting that started Friday in Washington.

Sustainable Solution

Cosentyx, approved for plaque psoriasis in more than 50 countries including the U.S., may bring in $2.5 billion a year in revenue for Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis by 2020, according to the average of eight analysts’ estimates. It recently won approval for psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis in the U.S. and European Union.

Plaque psoriasis occurs when the immune system attacks the body. It appears as raised, red patches of skin covered with a silvery white buildup of dead cells. More than one-third of patients with the disease have the moderate-to-severe form, according to Novartis.

“The goal for these patients is to get to clear skin because of intense quality of life issues they face,” Narasimhan said. “Patients are looking for a very sustainable solution to this disease.”

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