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Johnson & Johnson's Tremfya tops Novartis' Cosentyx in psoriasis trial

Johnson & Johnson's plaque psoriasis drug Tremfya was more successful than Novartis AG's Cosentyx in treating the disease in a head-to-head late-stage trial.

In Johnson & Johnson's phase 3 trial, called Eclipse, 84.5% of patients on Tremfya had a 90% improvement in psoriasis in 48 weeks, the company announced at the Inflammatory Skin Disease Summit in Vienna, Austria. With Novartis' Cosentyx, the improvement percentage was 70%. The drugs are both human monoclonal antibodies that block a protein to mute the immune system.

Novartis' head of global development, Eric Hughes, said the results do not take away from Cosentyx, as the medicine acted more quickly with patients achieving the baseline 90% psoriasis improvement at 12 weeks.

"The clinical relevance of this one time point that they presented is important and it needs to be seen," Hughes told S&P Global Market Intelligence in a Dec. 12 interview. "But we're really happy with the complete response that we've demonstrated in the variety of manifestations for psoriatic disease."

Cosentyx is in trials for two more indications, hidradenitis suppurativa and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, both related autoimmune diseases.

"Our goal now is to expand and build upon the label we've already created," Hughes said.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson is touting the long-term results of Trenfya.

"To make the best recommendations for their patients from among these options, physicians need long-term comparative safety and efficacy data," said Newman Yeilding, Johnson & Johnson's head of immunology development.