The New England Journal of Medicine published data revealing that the Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS)’s Ultibro Breezhaler is doing better than the GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE:GSK)’s Seretide. Seretide also is known as Advair in the United States, and prevents worsening of medical conditions especially for patients who have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Novartis wants to be the leading respiratory service provider in Europe and is making efforts to weasel market share away from the GlaxoSmithKline. According to David Epstein, Novartis’s Pharma chief, the company has a chance to become one of the market’s dominant players in respiratory medicine. Currently, Novartis has new data that it believes is going to be helpful on that front.
In a statement, Vasant Narasimhan, the Swiss drugmaker’s chief marketing officer, pointed out that reducing exacerbations is crucial to improving the outcomes and quality life for patients with COPD. He added further that the study clearly showed that Ultibro Breezhaler is superior when compared to the current standard of health care in lowering the levels of exacerbations, and this marks the shift away from therapies containing steroids for the efficient treatment of patients with COPD.
Novartis has hopes still. While Seretide has suffered loss for the last couple of years on the new competition and sales reduced by 18% in Europe last year, it still collected $1.46 billion in 2015. This is a far cry from the $260 billion Ultibro, a steroid-free LABA/LAMA combo drug, made within the same period.
Pushing doctors towards Ultibro is not easy
However, Glaxo has proved that it is not easy to drive physicians who are used to steroid-containing LABA/ICS medicines such as Seretide, toward the new LAMA/LABAs. Glaxo has been facing difficulties in treating its founder, Anoro. Andrew Witty, the chief executive officer for the Glaxo, noted that the company’s Q1 conference call that physicians are taking too long to changes their habits especially when it comes to prescribing.
Novartis thinks that it has what it takes to remove that obstacle, and in the meantime, it is examining fellow new respiratory products Seebri Breezhaler and Onbrez Breezhaler to chip in too.