One of Novartis' would-be blockbusters generated promising late-stage data as a therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Compared with a standard treatment option for COPD, QAB149 demonstrated improved lung function at 12 weeks and 26 weeks into treatment.
That's the kind of data that Novartis was hoping for as it pursues regulatory approval for the therapy in the U.S. and Europe. Researchers believe that the drug can be used alone and in combination with other lung drugs, including Vectura's NVA237. The market for COPD--also known as smoker's lung--is huge. Some 210 million people worldwide suffer from the respiratory disease, which is progressive.
One of the top therapies for COPD has long been Spiriva from Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim. But patients taking the once daily QAB149 needed significantly less relief therapy for acute breathlessness compared to the group taking Spiriva. "The potential superiority of QAB149 over gold standard treatment Spiriva is very reassuring and could lead to increased revenue forecasts going forward," said Andrew Weiss, analyst at Vontobel.