Novartis touts positive results for COPD inhalant

Novartis ($NVS) is reporting positive results from Phase III trials of QVA149, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug that uses the company's Breezhaler dry powder inhaler for delivery.

The drug combines two other Novartis COPD treatments--the on-the-market Arcapta Neohaler and the investigational Seebri Breezhaler--and researchers said QVA149 outperformed either of them alone in clinical trials. Other trials revealed the drug allowed patients to exercise for longer than with a placebo.

The Breezhaler device, approved by the FDA last year, is a once-a-day dry powder inhaler that allows patients to avoid rescue dosing for COPD. The development of the tech has allowed Novartis entry into the respiratory sector--a field in which it was once weak, but now is "pivotal to the company's future," Reuters reported when the device was approved.

The Swiss company is planning to seek approval for QVA149 in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and analysts predict it will pull in about $700 million in sales, according to Bloomberg. But Novartis isn't alone in pursuing a blockbuster COPD treatment. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is pushing Relovair for approval, and the company seems undeterred after so-so clinical results from trials last year.

Both drugs will have to dethrone GSK's Advair for a shot at success in the COPD market, however, and that won't be easy. Relovair was found to outperform Advair in just one of two trials conducted last year. And analysts told Dow Jones that while QVA149's Phase III results are encouraging, it remains to be seen whether the drug can top Advair.

- here's Novartis' release
- get more in FierceBiotech
- check out the Bloomberg report
- read the story from ​Dow Jones