Positive Results Observed In Novartis AG (ADR)(NYSE:NVS) Immune Thrombocytopenia Therapy


Novartis has revealed that its EXTEND Revolade study on patients suffering from persistent/chronic immune thrombocytopenia has yielded encouraging results. The open-label extension trial consisted of four phases and patients were evaluated for a period of up to eight years during which time they received continuous treatment. Results of the study showed that most of the patients responded well and will therefore not require ITP medications any more.

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In patients suffering from immune thrombocytopenia, there is a low platelet count which results in the blood not being able to clot easily. There is thus a danger of excessive bleeding when an injury occurs. In the study it was observed that close to 70% of the participants were able to maintain their platelet counts without undergoing rescue therapy over a prolonged period of time. This reduced the overall bleeding risk. And in over a third of the patients, there was no need to take ITP medications including azathioprine, danazol and corticosteroids.

EU approval

Revolade has received approval both in Europe and the United States and is indicated for treating thrombocytopenia in children aged one year and above who are suffering from chronic ITP and who have not responded well to immunoglobulins and corticosteroids. In the U.S. it is sold as Promacta.

Originally Revolade belonged to GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR)(NYSE:GSK) before Novartis acquired it. Novartis has entered into a collaboration deal with Ligand Pharmaceuticals where the latter is involved in marketing the drug. Besides Revolade Novartis also purchased certain pipeline compounds and oncology products from Glaxo two years ago. In return GSK acquired the non-flu business from Novartis. Other assets that Novartis has sold in the recent past include its animal health unit which it sold to Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY).

Competition from generics

Diovan, Novartis’ blockbuster drug, is currently encountering stiff competition from generics in Japan, Europe and the United States. Additionally Novartis also lost exclusivity for its Gleevec drug in the U.S. over one year ago. Losing patent protection from these blockbusters has hurt sales though the pharmaceutical giant has a strong portfolio of oncology drugs.

In Thursday’s trading session the stock of Novartis AG rose by 0.07% to close the day at $86.16 per share.

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