Novartis posts promising Phase III results for blockbuster hopeful QVA149

Novartis touted a slate of positive results for its COPD blockbuster hopeful QVA149, heralding promising results from three Phase III studies. Investigators for Novartis ($NVS) said the batch of data for the combination of indicaterol and NVA237 underscored the treatment's superiority over either of the two essential ingredients on their own, and outperformed a placebo in producing better exercise endurance.

That's all upbeat news for Novartis, which has high hopes of trumping Advair and a next-gen COPD treatment from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Theravance. But analysts weren't overly impressed. QVA149 is engaged in a total of 10 Phase III studies, and the analysts want to see signs of clear superiority over Advair in head-to-head studies. David Kaegi with Bank Sarasin in Zurich also fretted to Dow Jones that "In the important U.S. market, there is still considerable uncertainty over how Novartis will proceed with QVA149."

It hasn't hurt Novartis that the investigative team for Relovair, the intended successor to Advair, has been turning in mixed results from its late-stage program for the treatment. Both GSK and its partner Theravance, though, insist that they are well positioned to file for an approval later this year. Novartis seems just as determined to forge ahead. 

"Meeting the primary endpoints in the IGNITE Phase III clinical trial program signals significant progress in establishing the potential of QVA149, which is expected to be the third innovative medicine in our strong COPD portfolio," said Tim Wright, head of development for Novartis.

- read the press release
- here's the story from Dow Jones