Potential Novartis psoriasis blockbuster inches closer to approval
- An FDA panel has recommended approval of Novartis's interleukin-17 (IL-17) inhibitor, secukinumab, for the treatment of plague psoriasis. Secukinumab is an immunosuppressant drug.
- Secukinumab performed well in phase III trials and demonstrated superior efficacy compared with Amgen's market leader, Enbrel (etanercept), with respect to improving the symptoms of plague psoriasis.
- Currently, the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, including Enbrel and Humira (adalimumab), are the most frequently used drugs for the treatment of plague psoriasis.
Plague psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that accelerates skin cell growth ten-fold, resulting in red scaly patches on the skin. The TNF blockers have been the dominant class in this treatment area, which is expected to reach $7.6 billion in 2020—up from $3.6 billion in 2012.
In phase III trials, more than 50% of secukinumab-treated patients had at least a 90% reduction in skin redness, thickness and scaling, compared with 21% of Enbrel-treated patients.
As a class, IL-17 inhibitors are being developed rapidly with an eye towards the anti-inflammatory market, including treatment of plague psoriasis. Other companies that are developing IL-17 inhibitors include Eli Lilly, Amgen, and AstraZeneca. Though there is tight competition in this field, it's looking like Novartis will be the first company to bring an IL-17 inhibitor to market for treatment of plague psoriasis.