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Novartis AG (NVS - Analyst Report) recently announced positive results from its phase III study, SPARK, spanning over 64 weeks.

The results showed that its candidate QVA149 was more effective at reducing all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations compared to Seebri Breezhaler (glycopyrronium bromide 50 mcg) and open-label Boehringer-Ingelheim/Pfizer’s (PFE - Analyst Report) Spiriva (tiotropium) 18 mcg.

We note that Novartis’ candidate QVA149 is being studied for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The results were published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine. The study met its primary endpoint of significantly reducing the rate of moderate or severe COPD exacerbations.

It was also observed that usage of QVA149 can lead to significant improvements in lung function. SPARK is one of the ten studies, which is evaluating QVA49 for the treatment of COPD in the IGNITE phase III clinical trial program spanning across 42 countries and involving 7,000 patients.

We note that other than QVA149, Novartis’ COPD portfolio includes Onbrez Breezhaler (indacaterol maleate), which was launched in the US under the brand name Arcapta Neohaler and in Japan under the name Onbrez inhalation capsules where it is being co-promoted by Eisai and Co. Ltd (ESALY).

Onbrez Breezhaler reported a 39% year over year growth in 2012 driven by strong demand. As per Novartis, COPD affects approximately 210 million people across the globe and is expected to become the third most important cause of death by 2020. Thus, it provides ample commercial opportunities for the candidate upon approval.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3. Right now, UCB SA (UCBJF) looks more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).


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