As Taltz growth stalls, Lilly looks ahead to psoriatic arthritis expansion

Eli Lilly is counting on psoriasis med Taltz to drive U.S. volume growth. But lately, that growth has stalled.

New prescriptions for the next-gen med have stayed relatively flat over the last couple of months, Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat pointed out in a Friday note to clients. And new-to-brand prescriptions have actually declined.

One reason, Lilly told Raffat? “Possible seasonality,” which, Raffat pointed out, the market may have more evidence to support. First-in-class Cosentyx from Novartis also saw prescriptions flatten between the summer and fall of 2015, he said.

That phase didn’t last long, though, with new indications in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis giving Cosentyx a boost not long after. And in that regard, Lilly is hoping it can follow in Novartis’ footsteps.

RELATED: Lilly's new psoriasis med faces off against Novartis' quick-launching Cosentyx

Taltz is up for its own PsA nod, with regulators expected to hand down a decision by the end of the year. And while the PsA field is increasingly crowded, with drugmakers including Celgene, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson all angling for position, a new green light would help Taltz build on the $235.4 million it racked up through the first six months of this year.

Lilly certainly won’t mind any boost a new approval can provide. While diabetes standout Trulicity is churning out the largest share of the Indianapolis drugmaker’s volume growth, Taltz is “one of four additional products” backing it up in that department, Raffat said.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson's Tremfya gets its go-ahead to fight Novartis, Lilly in psoriasis. Can it stand out?

Meanwhile, competition is heating up in the psoriasis space, where Valeant and Johnson & Johnson have both snagged FDA OKs since Taltz’s March 2016 debut. The newcomers, though, may have a tough time stealing share; while EvaluatePharma predicts the youngest of the pack, J&J’s Tremfya, will eventually pass the blockbuster barrier, Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan, M.D.,  wrote earlier this year that experts have told him “they did not feel there was a need for many newer agents.”