Swiss drug maker Novartis believes that its new injectable drug Cosentyx could surpass annual sales forecasts as new clinical data have shown the drug's long term benefits as treatment for psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis is a long-term inflammatory disease marked by joint pain and stiffness, swollen fingers and toes, skin and nail psoriasis and irreversible joint damage.

Cosentyx was green lighted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) early this year as treatment for the painful skin condition plaque psoriasis albeit Novartis had hopes for the drug in related conditions.

On Monday, the company announced that the results of the pivotal Phase III FUTURE 2 study, which were published in the journal The Lancet on June 29, have shown that the drug acted rapidly on psoriatic arthritis and that the drug's efficacy was sustained over a period of one year.

The length of response to the treatment is crucial because anti-TNFs, older drugs that are used for treating such conditions, may no longer be as effective over time.

The drug company has already shown the two year benefits of its drug in psoriasis as well as its one-year effect on another long-term inflammatory disease known as ankylosing spondylitis.

"Secukinumab is the first IL-17A inhibitor to show consistent efficacy through one year in Psoriatic Arthritis, Psoriasis, and Ankylosing spondylitis," said Novartis Pharmaceuticals Global Head of Development Vasant Narasimhan. "Novartis has recently filed global regulatory submissions for secukinumab in both psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis and will continue to work to bring this important advance to patients with these debilitating diseases."

With its broad potentials in treating three related diseases, Novartis thinks its product could peak annual sales between $4 billion to $5 billion, $1.8 billion more than what analysts forecasted in 2020. Other drug companies also work on a similar drug but the competition is declining.

"These are sizeable indications,"Narasimhan said. "The global market for biological drugs in these diseases is around $12 billion to $13 billion and growing at a double-digit rate. So when you look at the profile Cosentyx has demonstrated, we believe we can generate the data for this drug to be used as first-line treatment across these indications and achieve that sales level."

Psoriatic arthritis is closely associated with psoriasis with about 30 percent of psoriasis patients known to have the condition. Between 0.3 and 1 percent of the population has psoriatic arthritis and one in four psoriasis patients may have undiagnosed psoriatic arthritis.

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