Novartis extends lead on psoriasis rivals with a pair of new Cosentyx approvals

Novartis ($NVS) has been working hard to rack up indications for new med Cosentyx before other next-gen psoriasis competitors hit the scene. And now, it's accomplished that goal in the U.S.

Novartis' Vas Narasimhan

The FDA has approved the therapy as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, the Swiss drugmaker said Friday, noting that in the U.S., up to 1% of the general population may be affected by psoriatic arthritis. Half a million are suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, it said.

As Novartis Pharma's global head of development, Vas Narasimhan, told FiercePharma in November, the company believes that Cosentyx and IL-17 inhibition will be "the new benchmark for treatment" for the pair of maladies, and becoming the first drug in its class to expand into multiple indications "is very critical for our differentiation."

With several Big Pharma competitors bringing their own inflammation-fighters up through the pipeline, differentiation will be important down the line. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Merck ($MRK), Valeant ($VRX) and others all hope to field competitors to Cosentyx in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, with a trio of approvals in its pocket, Novartis' med could reach peak sales as high as $4 billion to $5 billion, Narasimhan told Reuters over the summer, pointing out that "the global market for biological drugs in these diseases is around $12 billion to $13 billion and growing at a double-digit rate." The company is already working to penetrate the European market in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, nabbing European Commission approvals for those indications in November.

- read Novartis' release

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