Novartis Scores Major Phase III Win with New Cardiovascular Drug

Novartis just announced that its anti-inflammatory drug, canakinumab, was able to clear a 10,000-plus patient Phase III trial for cardiovascular disease. 

Novartis most recently boasted impressive Phase III results for its AMD drug, RTH258, that could yield the company a new blockbuster. Now, the Swiss drug maker announced that its cardiovascular drug, canakinumab, was able to meet its primary endpoint in one of the largest and longest-running Phase III trials in the company’s history.

Canakinumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that inhibits IL-1ß, a key cytokine in the inflammatory pathway known to drive the progression of inflammatory atherosclerosis. The antibody, which is already approved for rare autoimmune disease, was able to significantly reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), a composite of cardiovascular death, non-fatal myocardial infarction and non-fatal stroke, in patients with a prior heart attack and inflammatory atherosclerosis.

While a detailed analysis of the top-line results is outstanding, the data already mean a huge success for the pharma giant. “[Canakinumab] is the first and only investigational agent which has shown that selectively targeting inflammation reduces cardiovascular risk,” explained Vas Narasimhan, the global head of drug development and CMO at Novartis. Canakinumab has a completely different mechanism compared to existing drugs that are given after a heart attack, such as cholesterol-lowering statins or blood-thinners and thus, could be given on top of standard medicines.

With its 6-year, 10,000-plus patient study Novartis has certainly made a huge step in the cardiovascular field, which comes after a recent Phase III flop for heart failure drug serelaxin. The company’s stocks have subsequently climbed by 2.82% this morning.


Images via shutterstock.com /  Lightspring

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