Novartis Psoriasis Drug Cosentyx Positive in SCALP Study

Novartis AGNVS ended 2017 on a positive note, courtesy of strong performance of psoriasis drug, Cosentyx.

Cosentyx achieved multi-blockbuster drug status in 2017 on the back of strong growth in three approved indications - psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. The drug has grabbed market share from rivals - AbbVie's ABBV Humira and Amgen's AMGN Enbrel.

The drug has been evaluated in more than 10,000 patients in over 60 studies. It has been prescribed to more than 140,000 patients on a global basis across all indications.

Novartis recently reported new encouraging data on Cosentyx data from the phase III study, SCALP at the 2018 American Academy of Dermatology ("AAD") Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III study is being conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Cosentyx in 102 patients with moderate-to-severe scalp psoriasis.

The eligible patients were equally randomized to either subcutaneous Cosentyx 300 mg or placebo at week 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4, then every four weeks for 12 weeks. Patients in the placebo group who did not achieve at least 90% improvement from baseline in the Psoriasis Scalp Severity Index ("PSSI") score at week 12 were re-randomized to Cosentyx 300 mg until the completion of the study. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients who achieved PSSI 90 response rate at week 12.

Majority of patients with scalp psoriasis on Cosentyx achieved clear skin (PSSI 90) at week 12 and 24 along with improved quality of life.

The study showed that PSSI 90 response rates were achieved by a significantly higher proportion of patients receiving Cosentyx vs. placebo at week 12 (52.9% vs. 2.0%), with further improvements in those taking Cosentyx up to week 24 (58.8%).

Per estimates, scalp psoriasis affects 60 million people worldwide.

Earlier in the month, the FDA approved a line extension for Cosentyx, in moderate-to-severe scalp psoriasis. The FDA approval comes on the back of positive efficacy and safety outcomes from a dedicated phase III study - SCALP - in patients with scalp psoriasis.

Novartis' shares have gained 16.0% over a year on par with the industry 's gain of 16.5%.

The label expansion of the drug is likely to boost sales further.

Zacks Rank & Key Pick

Novartis carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A better-ranked stock from the health care space is Exelixis EXEL , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

Exelixis' earnings per share estimates have moved up from 72 cents to 77 cents for 2018 over the last 60 days. The company delivered positive earnings surprise in the last four quarters, with an average beat of 572.92%.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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