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Novartis drug gives pain relief in gouty arthritis

Zurich, May 25, 2011

Novartis AG's gout treatment hopeful gives patients better pain relief and significantly cuts the risk of new attacks, two late stage studies showed, giving the drugmaker's pipeline another boost.

Ilaris, or ACZ885, is seen as a key drug for Novartis, which is banking on new products to help offset the patent losses of big sellers, such as blood pressure treatment Diovan.

"Ilaris data look solid and the drug should develop into a blockbuster if approved in this indication," Helvea analyst Karl-Heinz Koch said.

Novartis said the studies showed patients taking Ilaris had less pain and the risk of new attacks were reduced by up to 68 percent compared to those taking an injectable steroid to treat gouty arthritis attacks, which can last for a week or more.   

Gout is a serious, chronic and progressive inflammatory disease that affects 1-4 percent of adults. It is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in adults and can cause chronic disability and joint destruction.

Novartis shares were trading 0.4 percent lower at 0703 GMT, while the European healthcare index was 0.2 percent lower. Novartis submitted filings for Ilaris in gouty arthritis patients with limited treatment options in the EU last year and in the United States, Canada and Switzerland in the first quarter of this year.

The drug is already approved in several countries to treat a rare, inflammatory disorder known as Cryopyrin-Associated Periodic Syndromes (CAPS).   

Novartis said scientists have recently learned that the root cause of pain in gouty arthritis is interleukin-1 beta and Ilaris specifically targets this.

The drugmaker is also studying Ilaris in other diseases in which IL-1 beta plays a role in causing inflammation, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The results of the study will be presented at this year's European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress in London. - Reuters




Tags: arthritis | Novartis | gout | Ilaris |

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