Drug Smackdown: Amgen vs. Eli Lilly

It's not often that you get to see two trials side by side, treating the same disease, with the same target, in the same medical journal. Thanks, New England Journal of Medicine!

Interleukin-17 inhibitors from Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN  ) and Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY  ) were both tested in patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Here's a table looking at the efficacy data for the most effective dose for each drug.

Drug

Company

PASI 75

PASI 90

PASI 100

Brodalumab Amgen 82% 75% 62%
Ixekizumab Eli Lilly 82% 71% 39%

Source: Company releases.

PASI stands for Psoriasis Area and Severity Index, a measure of how bad the disease is, and the second number tells you by how much the index was reduced. So PASI 75 is the percent of patients that saw at least a 75% reduction in the PASI score, while the PASI 100 patients saw a complete clearance of their disease.

The most obvious difference is that last column where brodalumab completely cleared more patients' psoriasis than ixekizumab. But keep in mind that these were both phase 2 trials, so who knows if the data can translate to a larger phase 3 trial.

It's best to wait for that larger data set to compare them with TNF inhibitors currently used to treat plaque psoriasis as well. Surely if they can keep up this level of efficacy, brodalumab and ixekizumab will be used in patients that fail TNF inhibitors such as Amgen and Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE  ) Enbrel, Abbott Labs' (NYSE: ABT  ) Humira, and Merck and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ  ) Remicade. Replacing TNF inhibitors as a first-line biologic won't be as easy given doctors' experience with them. Since psoriasis isn't a life-threatening disease, there's little reason to try new drugs first.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. With solid phase 2 results in hand, Amgen and Eli Lilly need to hurry up and collect the phase 3 data. And if they could publish them in the same journal, all the better.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli reads research reports for fun and profit. He holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratories. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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