Novartis set to begin late-stage testing of blood thinner

Portola Pharmaceuticals' partner Novartis will begin final-stage testing of the blood thinner elinogrel after researchers found the drug provides more rapid and greater antiplatelet activity than Plavix. The late-stage tests are slated to begin during the first quarter of 2011, Portola says.

In a randomized, double-blind, multi-center Phase II trial, researchers compared IV and oral elinogrel against clopidogrel in addition to standard of care in approximately 650 patients undergoing non-urgent percutaneous coronary interventions. Elinogrel took effect within a half hour to keep the blood's platelets from sticking together, as Bloomberg notes. The data were presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Stockholm. Elinogrel is being developed in collaboration with Novartis, which holds worldwide development and commercialization rights.

The late-stage study will test oral use in stable heart disease patients, Portola CEO William Lis tells Bloomberg. However, researchers won't know how elinogrel compares with other blood thinners until that trial is finished, explains Robert Harrington, a professor of medicine at Duke University and the chairman of the earlier trial's steering committee.

If approved, the compound may generate revenue of more than $1 billion a year, says Karl Heinz Koch, a Zurich-based analyst for Helvea. Elinogrel's potential will depend on how it compares with AstraZeneca Brilinta, which is under review by in the U.S., Koch adds, as quoted by Bloomberg.

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