Novartis’ psoriasis drug gets label boost

Novartis could gain further traction in the psoriasis drug market after European regulators granted a label update showing the firm’s Cosentyx clears skin better than Johnson & Johnson’s rival, Stelara.

Europes CHMP scientific committee approved the label update for Cosentyx (secukinumab), the first interleukin-17A approved to treat psoriasis.

Sales of Cosentyx, which is injected every four weeks, are mounting and the drug looks set to achieve blockbuster status, with sales expected to peak at around $4 billion.

But the market is highly competitive, with a range of disease modifying drugs available and Stelara establishing itself as a mainstay treatment.

Results of the CLEAR study showing Cosentyx is better at clearing skin than Stelara first emerged at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology (EADV) conference in October.

Data presented at the congress in Vienna, showed Cosentyx is significantly superior to J&J’s Stelara (ustekinumab) in delivering long-lasting skin clearance in psoriasis over 52 weeks.

Further data published at the congress also showed long-lasting clear or almost clear skin in the vast majority of patients, with a favourable safety profile over four years.

Almost all response rates are maintained from year one to year four, according to data.

The four-year data was based on assessments using the Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI) 90 (almost clear skin), and PASI 100 (clear skin).

The label update also includes data on the treatment of scalp psoriasis, a particularly difficult form of the disease to treat as activity is often maintained through hair care, scratching and shampooing.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis’ chief medical officer, said: “We are continually investigating new areas for Cosentyx to significantly enhance patients’ quality of life, such as scalp psoriasis.”

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