Seems to be working for Novartis
The company announced pretty good looking phase 3 trial data for its oral multiple sclerosis drug, FTY720, today. Multiple sclerosis drugs from Teva Pharmaceutical
At the lower dose, FTY720 reduced the relapse rate by 54% and the progression of disability by 30%, compared with the placebo. That's probably not as good as Biogen and Elan's
With the development of oral multiple sclerosis drugs, we may see a shift as doctors start treating multiple sclerosis more like diabetes. Patients start on less powerful but more convenient oral medications and then progress to injectable drugs once they need them.
Novartis has been preparing to sell FTY720 for a while, even though the drug's launch is still about a year away. In a rather complicated deal, Novartis is marketing Extavia, an exact copy of Bayer's multiple sclerosis drug Betaseron. With sales reps already in place, Novartis should be able to hit the ground running once U.S. and EU regulators approve FTY720.
Now all Novartis needs is a brand name, because I'm not sure we can extend this less-is-more analogy to a name like FTY720.
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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Elan is a Rule Breakers recommendation and Pfizer is an Inside Value pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.