Novartis scored an approval for its plaque psoriasis antibody, Cosentyx (secukinumab), on Wednesday, making it the first approved interleukin inhibitor. Cosentyx may prove to be a lucrative addition for the Swiss drugmaker. The drug is poised to grow market share, and could also unseat entrenched competition in the disease state, namely from the previous class of medicines, TNF inhibitors, like Amgen’s Enbrel and Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara.

Secukinumab demonstrated in head-to-head trials that it was superior to Stelara and Enbrel in clearing skin, according to media releases from Novartis. Amgen reported Enbrel sales of $1.12 billion for Q3 2014, while Stelara reported sales of $534 million for the same time period—a 47% jump from the year prior. In 2013, Credit Suisse forecasted secukinumab could reach $1.5 billion in annual global sales by 2020.


The drug was approved as a second-line therapy for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis and who are candidates for systemic therapy (i.e., patients with psoriasis covering 5-10% of their body). Cosentyx was approved earlier this week in Europe as a first-line treatment. An FDA advisory panel recommended the drug for approval in October 2014.

The Psoriasis Foundation estimates 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis and that 1.5 million US adults are “considered to have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.” Too, it notes that between “150,000 and 26,000 new cases of psoriasis are diagnosed each year.”

Novartis isn’t the only drugmaker working on this new class of psoriasis drugs, however. Eli Lilly is currently developing its own interleukin inhibitor, ixekizumab, which it said was superior to Enbrel in Phase-III trials in August 2014. Lilly plans to submit the drug to regulators in the first half of 2015. Amgen and AstraZeneca also have their own antibody in development: brodalumab, which the drugmakers stated was superior to Stelara in a Phase-III trial in November 2014.