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Celgene Corp (Summit NJ) said its experimental drug to treat the skin condition psoriasis reduced symptoms by a significant amount in a mid-stage trial.

Celgene Corp (Summit NJ) said its experimental drug to treat the skin condition psoriasis reduced symptoms by a significant amount in a mid-stage trial. Results of the 352-patient trial showed that 41% of patients treated with 30 milligrams of the drug, apremilast, twice a day, saw a 75% reduction in symptoms as measured by a score known as the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI-75) after 16 weeks. Only 6% of patients receiving a placebo achieved that score. "The Street, in our view, has never paid much attention to apremilast given the relatively early stage of the program and efficacy data that was not overwhelming," said Geoff Meacham, an analyst at J.P. Morgan. Even so, he said, the results point to sales potential for the drug of at least $500 million. If successful, the drug would compete with Amgen Inc.'s (Thousand Oaks CA) Enbrel, which dominates the psoriasis market. Enbrel, which inhibits a protein known as tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, is delivered by injection; apremilast, on the other hand, is an oral drug. Other TNF inhibitors include Humira, which is made by Abbott Laboratories Inc. (Abbott Park IL) and Remicade, made by Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick NJ).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also recently approved J&J's Stelara, which is the first in a new class of biologic medicines that targets the proteins interleukin (IL)-12 and interleukin (IL)-23. Enbrel has shown PASI-75 scores of up to 47%, while Humira and Remicade have shown PASI-75 scores in the 65-80% range, said Meacham. "The expectation going into this study was that apremilast would show efficacy well below that of the anti-TNFs, and thus this is a positive surprise," he said. Apremilast is designed to modulate the immune system by inhibiting multiple pro-inflammatory cell types by inhibiting a protein known as PDE4.
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Title Annotation:RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY
Publication:MondayMorning
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Dec 21, 2009
Words:306
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