Yep, Incyte (Nasdaq: INCY) and Novartis' (NYSE: NVS) ruxolitinib still works.

When last we visited clinical trial results for the drug, it was called INCB18424, but the addition of a chemical name didn't change much. The drug still produced positive results.

In the new trial, ruxolitinib reduced the size of the spleens in patients with myelofibrosis, a type of blood cancer. The companies didn't give details beyond the fact that there was a statistically significant difference.

In the first trial, the difference was extraordinarily large with 42% of patients seeing at least a 35% reduction in their spleen size compared to less than 1% of patients taking placebo.

The exact number for the second trial isn't particularly important for the companies to get the drug on the market in the U.S. and EU; meeting the primary endpoint in two trials will be more than sufficient. Since it's a cancer drug without any good treatment, safety isn't likely to be a major concern.

But the level of efficacy could be important in the future with a multitude of drugs trailing behind. YM BioSciences' (AMEX: YMI) CYT387, Onyx Pharmaceuticals' (Nasdaq: ONXX) ONX 0803, and sanofi-aventis' (NYSE: SNY) TG 101348 are all being tested in patients with myelofibrosis. If one or more of those drugs pass a pair of phase 3 trials, the competition in the marketplace will come down to not just if the drugs work, but how well.

Incyte and Novartis' best bet is to stay one step ahead of the competition by finding other indications where ruxolitinib might work. The drug inhibits JAK1 and JAK2, which are involved in stimulating blood cell production. Mutations in the genes are present in other blood cell diseases including polycythemia vera and essential thrombocytopenia, which could help grow sales of ruxolitinib.

But first, look for one more additional name. Incyte is planning on submitting a marketing application in the second quarter, which could have the drug on the market by the end of the year, at which point it'll need a brand name.

Keep track of Incyte as it tries to get INCB18424/ruxolitinib/whatever-we're-calling-it-these-days approved. Click here to add it to My Watchlist, which will help you keep track of all our Foolish analysis on Incyte.

Novartis is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.