AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) and Boehringer Ingelheim's Skyrizi performed better than Novartis' (NYSE:NVS) Cosentyx in a head-to-head late stage clinical trial in patients with the plaque psoriasis, an autoimmune skin disease.

After 16 weeks of treatment, Skyrizi was deemed non-inferior to Cosentyx -- the clinical trial way of saying "not worse than" -- with 74% of patients taking Skyrizi having at least a 90% improvement in the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI 90) compared to the start of the study, while 66% of patients taking Cosentyx achieved PASI90.

After a year of treatment, the efficacy of the drugs had separated with 87% of the patients taking Skyrizi reaching PASI 90, statistically better than the 57% of the patients taking Cosentyx who met the goal.

Skyrizi beat Cosentyx in other measurements at one year, including PASI 100 and PASI 75, which require 100% and 75% improvement in the PASI score, respectively, as well as the number of patients who were scored as clear or almost clear on the Physician Global Assessment.

Dermatologist examining a patient's back

Image source: Getty Images.

Skyrizi has been off to a solid launch. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April, and by the third quarter -- the first full quarter on the market -- AbbVie had already sold $76 million worth of the drug in the U.S.

In the same quarter, Novartis booked $937 million in global sales of Cosentyx, suggesting AbbVie and Boehringer Ingelheim have plenty of room to run, although to reach that level, the healthcare companies would need to also beat Cosentyx in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, both of which Cosentyx is also approved to treat.

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