Novartis arthritis drug fails to help COVID-19 patients
ZURICH — Novartis’ canakinumab failed to help COVID-19 patients survive without invasive ventilation compared with standard therapy, the Swiss drugmaker said Friday, dashing hopes the arthritis drug could be repurposed during the pandemic.
The medicine, approved as Ilaris for juvenile arthritis and other conditions, also did not meet its key secondary endpoint of reducing COVID-19 mortality in a late-phase clinical trial, the Basel-based drugmaker said.
Novartis has hoped 11-year-old canakinumab, with $671 million in sales last year, would help COVID-19 patients hit by inflammatory reactions. The trial, in 454 patients in the United States, Russia, and Europe, is the latest bid to redirect older anti-inflammatory monoclonal antibodies against the new coronavirus that has delivered disappointing news.
“There’s still an urgent need for effective ways to combat COVID-19 and we will continue to apply our best scientific minds in support of the global pandemic response,” Novartis chief drug developer John Tsai said.
Novartis has another late-stage trial of its drug Jakavi against COVID-19 underway, and has teamed up with Swiss drugmaker Molecular Partners on its anti-coronavirus drug candidate that is due to enter clinical trials soon.
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