Logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its branch in Schweizerhalle near Basel, Switzerland, March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis said it is pushing ahead with a late-stage study of its experimental drug ligelizumab after announcing the medicine outperformed Roche’s Xolair in a Phase II clinical trial against urticaria, also known as hives.
The move sets the stage for a new head-to-head battle between the Swiss drug giants. Xolair had 1.74 billion Swiss francs ($ 1.75 billion) in sales in 2017 and is a pillar of Roche’s immunology franchise, but Novartis sees an opportunity and plans two Phase III studies with more than 2,000 patients who suffer from chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU).
($ 1 = 0.9960 Swiss francs)
Reporting by John Miller; editing by Thomas Seythal