Novartis aims for gout indication for Ilaris

Novartis is looking to broaden use of its Ilaris drug beyond the rare-disease indication it already has. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the move is an example of Novartis' drug-development strategy--win approval for a small indication first, then spread out into broader use in disorders with similar characteristics.

Ilaris, now a $26 million drug, is approved for cryoprin-associated periodic syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes the body to overproduce interleukin-1 beta, an inflammatory protein. Only about 7,000 people worldwide have this condition. The company now wants to sell Ilaris for gout, which is also triggered by overproduction of interleukin-1 beta.

If Novartis can persuade regulators to approve Ilaris for gout and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the $26 million drug could become a blockbuster, Novartis' development chief Trevor Mundel told the WSJ. The company plans to present its gout data at a conference today.

- read the WSJ story