Eli Lilly & Company’s (LLY - Free Report) drug Taltz demonstrated superiority in improving the signs and symptoms of active psoriatic arthritis (PsA) while also providing skin clearance in a head-to-head study comparing it with AbbVie, Inc.’s (ABBV - Free Report) blockbuster medicine Humira.
The primary endpoint of the phase IIb/IV study — SPIRIT-H2H — was the proportion of patients experiencing improved signs and symptoms of active PsA at week 24. This was measured by the proportion of patients simultaneously achieving at least 50% reduction in disease activity as defined by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR50) as well as the proportion of patients who achieve complete skin clearance — in other words, 100% improvement from their baseline as measured by PASI 100 score.
The study met the primary and all major secondary endpoints, which were demonstrating non-inferiority in ACR50 and superiority in PASI100 in Taltz compared with Humira. Detailed data from the study is expected to be presented at the upcoming scientific meetings.
Lilly’s shares have rallied 28.3% this year so far compared with the industry’s increase of 5%.
Taltz was launched for the psoriatic arthritis indication in the United States last December and across some EU countries in 2018. It is also marketed for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis in adults, who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.
Taltz is an important revenue driver for Lilly, recording sales of $630.4 million in the first nine months of 2018, soaring 63% year over year. Data from the SPIRIT-H2H study shows that doctors can comfortably prescribe Taltz as a first-line biologic treatment for patients with active psoriatic arthritis, which may further increase demand for the drug.
Lilly is also conducting a head-to-head study to evaluate superiority of Taltz over J&J’s (JNJ - Free Report) new drug, Tremfya (guselkumab). The study is likely to be completed by the end of next year.
Lilly currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
A better-ranked large-cap pharma stock is Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK - Free Report) with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
Merck’s earnings estimates have been revised 1.4% upward for 2018 and 1.3% for 2019 over the past 60 days. The stock has surged 33.7% this year so far.
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