It wasn’t all that long ago that Johnson & Johnson was touting head-to-head results for its psoriasis drug Tremfya against Novartis’ blockbuster Cosentyx. But now, a different rival has topped Tremfya in a showdown of its own.
Tuesday, Eli Lilly said Taltz had topped the J&J med at achieving total skin clearance in psoriasis patients after 12 weeks of treatment. In a phase 4 study pitting the two drugs against one another, Taltz helped a higher proportion of patients hit that mark, as measured by the commonly used Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI).
Exactly how many patients reached the target remains to be disclosed, so it’s not yet clear how big Taltz’s win actually was. But the product also topped Tremfya at each measured interval between the start of treatment and Week 12, Lilly said.
“Research shows that patients want clear skin and rapid improvements,” Lotus Mallbris, Lilly VP of immunology development, said in a statement. "Head-to-head data like these are important and will help inform individual treatment goal discussions between healthcare providers and their patients,” Andrew Blauvelt, dermatologist and president of Oregon Medical Research Center, added.
Lilly certainly hopes so. It’s working to improve on the $606.3 million in global sales that Taltz pulled in through the first half of the year—a performance that puts it well on track to break the blockbuster barrier. The therapy came just short of it last year, generating $937.5 million.
While Lilly’s treatment has come a long way since its 2016 debut, it hasn’t been an easy fight. It went up against Novartis’ in-class powerhouse Cosentyx, which beat it to market, as well as anti-TNF giants including AbbVie’s Humira and Amgen’s Enbrel. Later, additional competitors—including Tremfya, which picked up a head-to-head psoriasis victory of its own last year against Cosentyx—joined the mix.
The Indianapolis drugmaker isn’t just counting on psoriasis for sales, though, and neither are its nemeses. It also bears an approval in psoriatic arthritis, and it’s chasing a nod in non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, too.