Can a triple-play COPD drug protect GSK from Novartis' QVA149?

In no surprise to analysts, Novartis' ($NVS) QVA149 was the standout experimental drug to take the spotlight at the recent European Respiratory Society meeting in Vienna. Novartis may be delayed in the U.S. on this program, but GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) hasn't been nearly as impressive with its own Relovair, a next-gen product intended to replace Advair, the top selling COPD drug.  

But GSK isn't about to let Novartis walk away with its market. 

Darrell Baker, GSK's respiratory drug development chief, tells Bloomberg that GSK961081--a MABA, or bifunctional muscarinic antagonist-beta2 agonist--could prove the key to a triple-play COPD treatment delivered in a single device--an innovation that has yet to be pulled off. In mid-stage studies, GSK saw a significant improvement in lung performance after 29 days of treatment.

"MABA may be the quickest route to triple-therapy," Baker told Bloomberg. "If you can have a product like the MABA, which is one molecule with two modes of action, then you reduce the level of complexity down to the level of complexity of a dual formulation like Advair."

A late-stage study could launch soon, leading to a new treatment as early as 2016. The drug was in-licensed from Theravance ($THRX), a longtime GSK partner, back in 2005.

- here's the story from Bloomberg