Eli Lilly's Taltz tops J&J's Tremfya with 41% skin clearance in head-to-head tussle

Eli Lilly's Taltz bested Johnson and Johnson's Tremfya at clearing plaque psoriasis patients' skin. (Eli Lilly)

Eli Lilly knows it has a tough fight ahead for IL-17A med Taltz with challengers from Novartis and Johnson & Johnson on the march. But in a head-to-head battle with one—J&J’s Tremfya—Taltz has taken the day in clearing patients’ skin. 

Taltz beat out Tremfya in a head-to-head phase 4 study, completely clearing 41.3% of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis patients’ skin at 12 weeks compared with 24.9% for the latter. That top-line data from Lilly’s Ixora-R study was presented Thursday at the Maui Derm NP+PA meeting in Asheville, North Carolina.

Not only did Taltz best its rival at the 12-week primary endpoint, the drug also topped Tremyfa in completely and partially clearing skin at a range of weekly markers, Lilly said. The study is ongoing, with a final marker at 24 weeks.

Ixora-R is the first head-to-head study between an IL-17A inhibitor such as Taltz and an IL-23 inhibitor with full skin clearance as a primary endpoint, and it could translate into a leg up for Lilly's in-class competitor Cosentyx from Novartis.

RELATED:  Eli Lilly's Taltz bests J&J rival Tremfya in head-to-head psoriasis tilt

Lilly is hoping 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.

Cosentyx, by contrast, hit $1.6 billion in the first half, making the first-to-market drug the clear leader in the class.

One area where Taltz has held the lead is in spondyloarthritis, where it could get a head start over its older rival. It put up positive phase 3 results in April, while Cosentyx just Thursday posted the positive data