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AbbVie skin drug performs better than Novartis' Cosentyx in head-to-head study

AbbVie Inc. said its skin disease therapy Skyrizi was better than Novartis AG's Cosentyx in clearing the skin of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Biotech giant AbbVie was comparing Skyrizi, or risankizumab, with Cosentyx during the 52-week phase 3 head-to-head study. Skyrizi had significantly higher rates of skin clearance compared to Novartis' medicine, AbbVie noted in Jan. 14 news release.

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis, a condition in which the skin turns red and is covered with silvery scales or patches.

AbbVie said patients treated with Skyrizi had shown at least a 90% improvement at week 52 from the initial reading — taken at the start of the trial for disease severity and skin coverage.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission approved Skyrizi to treat certain adult patients with plaque psoriasis based on results from a strong clinical program in April 2019. Skyrizi also worked better than AbbVie's blockbuster drug Humira in treating plaque psoriasis during one trial.

Skyrizi was developed as part of a collaboration between AbbVie and Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.

Novartis's Cosentyx, or secukinumab, has been approved in the U.S. for treating plaque psoriasis since 2015, and the FDA expanded the indication to include ankylosing spondylitis and active psoriatic arthritis in 2016. The drug's net sales reached $937 million during the third quarter of 2019, according to the Swiss drugmaker's earnings release.

For the same quarter, AbbVie's Skyrizi generated $91 million globally, which was termed as an impressive start by the company's chairman and CEO, Richard Gonzalez.