Novartis is happy with results of new testing that supports approval of gout, or gouty arthritis treatment which is already in the review pipeline according to a new release this week by the Swiss/New York pharmaceutical giant. It is proving very successful in reducing patients’ pain and limiting the risk of new attacks.

Study investigator Professor Alexander So of the University Hospital in Lausanne stated:

“The findings show that ACZ885 may represent an important advance in the treatment of gouty arthritis in sufferers whose disease cannot be appropriately managed with currently available treatments. Scientists only recently learned that the root cause of the pain in gouty arthritis is interleukin-1 beta. Through specifically targeting interleukin-1 beta, these studies show ACZ885 can effectively treat painful attacks while extending the time to new attacks.”

The company knew this was coming and back in 1998 during clinical trials, Professor Philip Hawkins of the National Amyloidosis Centre at the Royal Free and University College Medical School, London said:

“Traditional drugs for auto inflammatory diseases, which work by suppressing the immune system as a whole, are not always effective, while newer therapies control the disease better but are short-acting. The data for ACZ885 are exciting for the medical community as symptoms disappeared within a few days of treatment and the response was sustained, so patients may only need to be treated every second month.”

Novartis said the monoclonal antibody, which works by blocking an inflammatory protein called interleukin-1 beta, had been filed for regulatory approval in gouty arthritis patients with limited treatment options in the European Union in 2010 and in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland in the first quarter of 2011.

The term arthritis refers to more than 100 types of different rheumatic diseases. Gouty arthritis accounts for approximately 5% of all cases of arthritis. Gouty arthritis is one of the most painful rheumatic diseases and is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in adults. In the U.K. an estimated 1.4% of the population suffers from gouty arthritis, while in the U.S. 3.9% of the population has the condition.

While the sales potential in this patient group indication may be limited, analysts said, a further expansion of the drug’s use for other patient groups could turn the medicine into a blockbuster with more than $1 billion in sales as Novartis would be able to tap into the $35 billion arthritis market. No wonder the brand is excited about this news.

David Epstein, head of Novartis’s pharmaceuticals division comments:

“We are very excited about these results, which indicate that ACZ885 may become a significant new alternative for gouty arthritis patients. Novartis is committed to meeting this unmet medical need and to further investigating the potential of ACZ885.”

A successful expansion of the drug’s use would also prove that the company is on the right track as far as its drug-development strategy is concerned: Novartis targets the development of drugs for rare diseases that can later be used to treat illnesses that affect more people, thus helping sales and profit.

Source: Novartis

Written by Sy Kraft