There's a fine balance to be struck with multiple sclerosis drugs and other drugs that modulate the immune system, like Johnson & Johnson's
That's the issue that Novartis
On Friday, Novartis announced promising results from a phase 3 trial on FTY720, which sounds more like a skateboard move than a potential blockbuster drug. The drug reduced the relapse rate by 38% and 52%, compared with Biogen Idec's
But the trial was only a year long, and FTY720 has had some issues with safety, including two fatal herpes infections, along with seven incidences of skin cancer compared with just one in the group taking Avonex. Data from two longer-term two-year trials are expected next year, and those studies are likely to determine how successful FTY720 is on the market.
Much has been made about FTY720 being administered orally versus the current drugs that are injected, like Avonex, Teva Pharmaceutical's
Novartis plans to apply for marketing authorization next year. If FTY720 can stick its landing and find the sweet spot of balancing the benefits and side effects, the drug could be a blockbuster. Keep an eye on this one, Fools.