By Christian Zeron,
Money & Investing Writer
Novartis’ (NASDWQ: NVS) anti-inflammatory treatment received praise from official reviewers for the Food and Drug Administration on October 16th. Their Phase III study has concluded that the medical benefit of the treatment far outweighs any risks and thus will continue on the road to a FDA approval.
The treatment, secukumab, is a monoclonal antibody which, when injected, blocks interlukin-17 (AL_17), a protein that has been proven to play a large part in inflammation. secukumab, given its potential to drastically reduce inflammation, is being used as a treatment for psoriasis.
Novartis is considered one of the most powerful companies in pharmaceuticals for very distinct reasons.
Their ability to abruptly steal market share with their breakthrough therapies is one of them.
Psoriasis is the designation to five different forms of skin aliments: Erythrodermic, pustular, inverse, guttate and, most notably, Plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form and appears on one’s body in large raised red patches formed by a buildup of dead skin cells. Plaque psoriasis is not only a debilitating disease but also a common one as more than 125 million people, 3 percent of the world’s population, are affected by plaque psoriasis.
Mild symptoms have an effect on ones quality of life and have the potential to progress into psychologically effecting its victims with overwhelming discomfort and pain.
In addition to its terrible symptoms, those effected also experience a greater risk of heart disease, particularly diabetes.
The psoriasis market is not without competition but secukinumab looks like it has the potential to entirely disrupt the current breakdown of market share. For example, in October of 2013, Norvartis announced the results of a clinical trial program with more than 3,3000 patients, each with nothing less than moderate psoriasis.
The program was actually a head to head trial between secukinumab and Amgen’s (NASDQ: AMGN), already marketed, Enbrel.
The results of the program showed twice as many secukinumab patents experienced relief and nearly clear skin by week 12 versus Enbrel.
The clear conclusion of the study was that Novartis’ treatment proved greatly superior to Amgen’s.
To shed some light as to the possible revenue: Enbrel, an inferior treatment, brought in $8.8 billion last year alone.
In response to the results and validation of the efficacy of secukinumab, David Epstein, Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division of Novartis Pharma AG stated “These exciting data suggest that with secukinumab, we have the potential to help more patients achieve clear skin, which is the ultimate treatment goal,”.
In the same press release, Mr. Epstein also explained that “The data also show that specifically targeting IL-17A may offer a new and effective treatment approach for people living with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.”
When it comes to evaluating Novartis as a whole, secukinumab will not get much attention.
In 2013, they reported $57.9 billion in sales and led the world of pharmaceuticals. No, secikinumab probably wont hold a candle to Clozaril or Ritalin in regards to world presence and importance for Novartis.
That being said, it is astounding that despite their massive projects of development and marketing some of the world’s most important treatments, they have still managed to potentially break another market and earn billions.
If one is evaluating Novartis, it wouldn’t be recommend that they focus on the success or failure of this psoriasis treatment but rather on the tenacity and attention to detail they have demonstrated by producing it.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 21st print edition.
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