Novartis' Tasigna beats Glivec in leukemia study

More news from the American Society of Hematology meeting: In the first head-to-head comparison of Novartis' Tasigna and its older medicine Glivec (also known as Gleevec), Tasigna results showed statistically significant improvement over Glivec in every measure of efficacy, including major molecular response, complete cytogenetic response, and prevention of disease progression. Tasigna is currently approved for second-line use for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia.

The overwhelming positive data is a dose of good news for Novartis, which will see sales of Glivec erode when it goes off-patent in a few years. Glivec is Novartis' second-best selling drug, with $3.7 billion in sales in 2008. Novartis intends to file worldwide applications for Tasigna for newly-diagnosed patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive CML in chronic phase.

"Considering the already low rates of progression to advanced disease and the excellent long-term survival of patients on Glivec, the efficacy and safety profile of Tasigna at 12 months is fantastic news and brings promise for further improving the outcomes of patients with Ph+ CML," David Epstein, President and CEO of Novartis Oncology and Novartis Molecular Diagnostics, says in a statement.

- read the release from Novartis
- check out the Reuters article