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Actelion (ALIOF) recently announced positive results from a phase II study on its S1P1 modulator, ponesimod. Actelion is evaluating ponesimod as a treatment for patients suffering from moderate-to-severe chronic plaque psoriasis.

The study achieved its primary objective of improving at least 75% in Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) from baseline (PASI75) after 16 weeks. The study enrolled 326 patients. Results from the study showed that both doses of ponesimod (20 mg and 40 mg) achieved statistical significance.

Around 46% of patients treated with ponesimod (20 mg) showed an improvement of at least 75% in PASI, whereas 48.1% treated with ponesimod (40 mg) showed the same at the 16th week. Approximately 13% of patients under placebo showed an improvement of at least 75 % in PASI after the same duration of time.

Actelion now plans to initiate a phase III study on ponesimod in the psoriasis indication. Actelion will be discussing the phase III study details with health authorities around the world once full data analysis of the phase II results are done.

We remind investors that in July 2011, Actelion successfully completed a phase IIb dose-finding study with ponesimod for the treatment of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.

We note already approved drugs for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis include Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ - Analyst Report) Stelara, Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Analyst Report) Humira and Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Analyst Report) and Amgen Inc.’s (AMGN - Analyst Report) Enbrel.

Actelion carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) in the short run. Johnson & Johnson carries a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy) whereas Amgen carries a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy).

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