Novartis Korea said Friday its first-in-class drug for severe plaque psoriasis Cosentyx (ingredient: secukinumab) gained national coverage as a second-line treatment, retroactively from August.
Reimbursement will apply to patients who have the skin condition covering more than 10 percent of the body and a PASI 10 or higher who have not responded to standard therapies (such as methotrexate (MTX) or cyclosporine), according to the company.
|Gerard Bruin, a clinical pharmacologist at Novartis, presents clinical study findings at the company’s press conference in downtown Seoul Friday.|
Patients who have not responded to optical treatment (PUVA) or phototherapy (UVB) for more than three months can also benefit from national coverage.
The cost of the therapy, if administered once a month, will translate into roughly 140,000 won ($123) for the patient, significantly reducing the economic burden of patients with severe psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), according to Novartis Korea.
“When it comes to psoriasis, the onset of biologic therapy has made a huge impact on the lives of our patients,” said Lorne Albrecht, clinical assistant professor at the University of British Colombia, department of dermatology, at Novartis Korea’s news conference Friday. “Psoriasis is a disease that affects 125 million people worldwide and over half a million people in Korea.”
Of those affected, around 20 percent suffer from moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, Albrecht added, characterized by red, scaly plaques that are itchy and vary in severity from parts and to the whole of the body.
Cosentyx is on the market now for three indications, according to the Novartis’ Cosentyx clinical pharmacologist, Gerard Bruin. The drug first gained approval for psoriasis in 2015 and authorization to treat PsA and AS in 2016, he added.
The Swiss multinational pharma giant has also published Cosentyx data from a five-year-long study that showed long-term skin clearance in psoriasis patients. The Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score were used to measure the success of psoriasis treatment, with PASI 100 indicating completely clear skin.
The trial showed 89 percent of patients showed a PASI 75 while 69 percent recorded a PASI 90 when treated with the therapy. The study also found around 44 percent of patients had a PASI 100 score after one year of treatment with the rate prevailing to the fifth year, the company said. The therapy also showed a positive and consistent safety profile, it added.
The long-term data and national insurance coverage come as several competitors – Eli Lilly’s Taltz, Valeant’s Siliq, and Johnson & Johnson’s investigational drug guselkumab – are entering the market with next-generation psoriasis drugs.
Despite facing pricing pressures and heated competition, Albrecht remained optimistic saying, “One of the biggest challenges could be from biosimilars, and we have not seen much uptake of those in dermatology.”
“We should be excited with these therapies,” he added. “They make a huge difference in our patient’s lives. They are evolutionary, and they have changed how we have started to treat our patients.”