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Novartis (NVS - Analyst Report) recently announced encouraging top-line data from a phase III study, FIXTURE (the Full year Investigative eXamination of secukinumab vs. eTanercept Using 2 dosing Regimens to determine Efficacy in psoriasis), on psoriasis candidate, secukinumab (AIN457).

In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (n =1,307), secukinumab was evaluated for efficacy in patients suffering from moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. It was observed in the study that secukinumab was more effective in clearing skin than Amgen’s (AMGN - Analyst Report) Enbrel.

The study met primary as well as secondary endpoints. The safety profile of secukinumab was consistent with previously reported results from phase II studies in moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.

Secukinumab is one of the most promising pipeline candidates at Novartis - we are encouraged by the results and look forward to detailed results that will be presented later this year. Novartis also remains on track to file for approval this year.

We note that secukinumab is also being evaluated for other indications like psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis among others. The phase III studies for these indications are ongoing with results expected in 2014.

Additionally, secukinumab is in phase II studies for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Secukinumab is the first anti IL-17A on which phase III results have been presented. We note that Amgen has an anti IL-17 candidate, brodalumab, in its pipeline. Brodalumab is currently in phase III studies for the psoriasis indication.

Meanwhile, currently approved products include AbbVie’s (ABBV - Analyst Report) Humira among others.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX - Analyst Report) looks well placed with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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