Novartis looks past psoriasis for even bigger Cosentyx growth frontier

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Biologics have penetrated only about 20% of the spondyloarthropathies market, Bernstein's Tim Anderson says.

Novartis’ Cosentyx currently leads a crop of next-gen immunology products from a who’s who of Big Pharma. And the Swiss drugmaker intends to keep it that way.

At the company’s Monday R&D update and investor event, Novartis highlighted opportunities for the med going forward. The company is planning a 2019 filing for Cosentyx in non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis and, in the years to follow, head-to-head showdowns with AbbVie’s Humira in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

RELATED: Novartis' Cosentyx racks up more long-term data in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis

Cosentyx already leads its rivals—Eli Lilly’s Taltz, Valeant’s Siliq and Johnson & Johnson’s Tremfya—when it comes to its indication count. It’s the only one of the group to have branched out after its initial psoriasis OK to win FDA greenlights in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, which it did back in early 2016.

But as the new data comes out, it should give Cosentyx a boost in markets that are growing increasingly crowded thanks to competition both inside and outside the drug’s class. Meds such as Pfizer’s Xeljanz are angling for nods in psoriatic arthritis, for one, and a slew of biosimilar drugmakers are working to bring copies of AbbVie’s anti-TNF giant to market.

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

According to Novartis, the spondyloarthritis markets are exactly where it wants to be: They boast more remaining opportunity than other immunology segments such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. While biologics have penetrated about 53% of the rheumatoid arthritis space and about 39% of the psoriasis market, in spondyloarthropathies, that figure is “markedly lower” at about 20%, Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson wrote to clients.

That’s not to say that Cosentyx isn’t also benefiting from its psoriasis indication. Novartis is “more than holding its own in psoriasis,” Anderson wrote, quoting the company’s executive presentation.

With all of those factors in mind, Cosentyx’s growth prospects helped affirm “our view that Novartis’ late-stage pipeline offers enough to keep investors engaged,” Anderson wrote, adding that the pipeline “represents an important collective future source of revenue, and it plays out in a timeframe that is close enough to matter.”