UCB's dual inhibitor beats J&J's Stelara in psoriasis phase 3 

UCB CEO Jean-Christophe Tellier (UCB)

UCB’s bimekizumab has beaten Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara in a phase 3 psoriasis trial. The dual inhibitor of IL-17A and IL-17F outperformed J&J’s blockbuster incumbent against an endpoint that tracked the proportion of patients achieving a 90% reduction in psoriasis symptoms.

Bimekizumab racked up some impressive numbers on its route to phase 3, fully clearing psoriasis in 60% of patients in a phase 2b trial. UCB has now backed up those findings with a phase 3 that may, once full details are available, paint bimekizumab as a challenger for the blockbuster psoriasis market. 

Shares in UCB rose more than 5% on the day it released top-line findings from the phase 3 trial, which compared bimekizumab to placebo and Stelara in adults with moderate-to-severe chronic plaque psoriasis.

The 570-patient trial found bimekizumab outperformed Stelara on two key measures. More patients who received UCB’s drug achieved PASI 90—a 90% reduction in psoriasis area and severity—and an Investigator Global Assessment (IGA) score of clear or almost clear. 

UCB is yet to share the numbers behind those comparisons, but the picture it sketched out is positive. The trial met its co-primary endpoints—which tracked changes in PASI and IGA from baseline—and delivered a safety profile consistent with that seen in phase 2b, when no patients suffered serious adverse events linked to the drug.

The top-line findings provide a boost for UCB as it heads toward a series of readouts that will shape the prospects of bimekizumab. UCB is working to wrap up clinical trials that are comparing bimekizumab to AbbVie’s Humira and Novartis’ Cosentyx, two of the other big beasts of the psoriasis market.   

If UCB can land blows on Humira and, in particular, Novartis’ fast-growing blockbuster, expectations for bimekizumab will rise further. UCB is also testing the drug in psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.

Editor's note: The use of "bispecific antibody" in this story has been changed to "dual inhibitor" to better reflect bimekizumab's mechanism of action.