The Swiss pharma giant said on Friday that Cosentyx, used in a trial
to treat active psoriatic arthritis, yielded "numerically higher
results versus Humira" but the statistical readout was not reliable
enough to count as evidence.
The Swiss group said that Cosentyx, its second-bestselling drug with
$2.8 billion in revenue last year, "narrowly missed statistical
significance for superiority" over Humira, a drug made by AbbVie..
Cosentyx is already approved for use in psoriatic arthritis,
psoriasis and other conditions, and a clear win over auto-immune
disease treatment Humira would have boosted its sales prospects.
Still, Novartis said it hoped the full trial data on easing symptoms
such as tender or swollen joints, to be disclosed later at a medical
conference, would convince physicians.
"We view the results as confirming our vision of Cosentyx becoming
standard of care in psoriatic arthritis," said Eric Hughes, the
company's head of development in immunology, hepatology and
The drugmaker has said it believes its product could achieve peak
annual sales of $4 billion to $5 billion thanks to its broad
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Abbvie's Humira, in turn, chalked up close to $20 billion in sales
in 2018, but the drug has come under fire from cheap rivals in
Europe and faces a loss of patent protection in the United States in
Novartis stock was little changed at 86.14 Swiss francs at 0910 GMT.
Psoriatic arthritis affects around 50 million people worldwide.
This week U.S. regulators halted a trial of Novartis's Zolgensma
treatment after an animal study raised safety concerns.
In other setbacks, Novartis's heart failure drug Entresto failed a
trial in a new use, the Swiss drugmaker said in July, calling into
question billions of dollars in potential revenue and taking the
shine off one of the company's biggest growth prospects.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger and John Revill; Editing by Michael
Shields and David Evans)
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