Novartis touts new data on Certican, Ilaris

Novartis ($NVS) pulled the curtain back on three positive sets of data, one on its transplant drug Certican, and two on its anti-inflammatory Ilaris. The former backed Certican in combination with a low dose of the standard therapy Prograf. And the latter could set the stage for new indications for Ilaris, which lost out on an FDA approval for gout last year.

Novartis pitted Certican, a.k.a. Afinitor when used as a cancer treatment, in combination with low-dose Prograf, against the usual dose of Prograf alone. After two years, the two regimens proved equally efficacious, and the Certican patients had better-functioning kidneys.

That's an advantage, Novartis says, because liver transplant patients are at higher risk of chronic kidney failure. Drugs like Prograf, known as CNIs, work by inhibiting calcineurin, while Certican is an mTOR inhibitor that "acts synergistically" with CNIs, the company says. Novartis unveiled the data at a meeting of the Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Meanwhile, a newer Novartis drug, Ilaris, proved helpful to patients with two rare diseases: Familial Mediterranean Fever and TRAPS, or tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome. Presented at the American College of Rheumatology meeting, the phase II studies support broader use of Ilaris, which is now approved to treat CAPS, Cryopyrin-Associated Periodic Syndromes.

The Novartis release referred to Ilaris by its in-development moniker, ACZ885, suggesting that it may use a different brand name for the drug if approved for these rare diseases. As Reuters notes, there are no FDA-approved treatments for FMF or TRAPs. Besides its potential use in these two disorders, Novartis is aiming to broaden Ilaris' market to patients with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis; it's hoping to file for that FDA approval this year.

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