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Novartis releases results of MS drug trials weeks ahead of FDA verdict

Published on 28/05/20 at 12:35pm
Photo by Andrew Hecht

Novartis has revealed clinical trial data from testing its anti-CD20 leukameia drug Arzerra (ofatumumab) in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials showed that 47% of patients who took Arzerra showed no evidence of the disease within the first year, versus just 24% who were treated with Sanofi’s Aubagio. This was measured through assessing relapses, progression and brain lesions.

After two years nearly 90% of trial participants were clear of the disease compared to 48% of Aubagio patients. These results were published in May's European Journal of Neurology.                     

Krishnan Ramanathan, Neuroscience Global Program Head at Novartis: “These results are encouraging and support our belief that, if approved, ofatumumab could have the potential to significantly improve the lives of people with RMS. These data are a testament to our commitment to reimagining medicine and advancing innovative treatments that help people with this serious and progressive disease.”

Novartis acquired Arzerra in 2015, when it acquired GlaxoSmithKline’s cancer portfolio. It had already been FDA approved to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia and will be marketed under a different brand name if it is approved for treating MS.

While it seems Novartis have the edge over Sanofi’s own MS treatment, they will still face competition from Roche and Johnson and Johnson in the MS Market.

The FDA is set to make their decision on Arzerra’s approval for treating MS in June.

Conor Kavanagh

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