Novartis’ new drug muscles in on Pfizer’s territory

pharmafile | October 10, 2016 | News story | Sales and Marketing Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, ibrance, ribociclib 

A drug developed by Novartis, ribociclib, when combined with an older drug, letrozole, has been shown to reduce risk of progression or death by 44%. On top of these results, the combination of drugs also showed a significant shrinkage of tumours with more than half of women seeing their tumour reduce in size by at least 30%.

“We are excited about these strong results that show LEE011 has the potential to be an effective first-line treatment option that could improve outcomes for women with HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer,” said Bruno Strigini, CEO, Novartis Oncology, speaking on the publishing of the news. “Following the Breakthrough Therapy designation granted by the FDA in August of this year, we look forward to working closely with health authorities to bring a much needed new treatment option to these patients as quickly as possible.”

Novartis’ drug displays similar figures to Pfizer’s blockbuster drug Ibrance, which had a 42% reduction in progression-free survival. Ibrance has had a two year head-start to gain a foothold within treatment but forecasts predict that ribociclib will stand to make $1 billion by 2021. This is pitted against a predicted $5.8 billion for Ibrance. Eli Lilly is also racing to join the market with their drug, abemaciclib, but it is some way behind its two competitors. It is now going through Phase III trials but there is still potential for the drug to make strides into the market as the third drug to enter, if the clinical trial results prove greater efficacy.

The CDK drug area is a potentially lucrative one with Pfizer’s Ibrance bringing in $723 million in 2015 sales and then $942 million in the first half of 2016. Novartis’ positive results with ribociclib will see them eyeing a share of that market. 

Ben Hargreaves

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