Bristol-Myers Psoriasis Drug Shows Promise in Late-Stage Trials

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s experimental psoriasis drug showed positive results in two late-stage trials, potentially setting it up as future rival to Otezla, Amgen Inc.’s billion-dollar pill.

Bristol’s deucravacitinib is a TYK2 inhibitor for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Significantly more patients treated with the drug showed superior results for disease severity and skin clearance compared with those on a placebo, the company said Friday in a statement.

It also demonstrated superior results compared with Otezla, which generated $617 million sales in the first quarter. In 2019, Bristol-Myers sold off Otezla to appease antitrust concerns when it acquired Celgene Corp. But it had another promising experimental psoriasis therapy in the pipeline in deucravacitinib, which now appears to be paying off.

“We believe deucravacitinib has significant potential across a broad range of immune-mediated diseases,” said Mary Beth Harler, the company’s head of immunology and fibrosis development. The company is in talks with health authorities to market the drug as soon as possible, Harler said.

Psoriasis -- an immune-mediated disease that causes inflammation -- impacts at least 100 million people worldwide. Around 8 million people in the U.S. live with it, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Many patients with moderate to severe psoriasis remain undertreated, untreated or are dissatisfied with existing therapies.

By inhibiting TYK2, the Bristol-Myers treatment avoids worrisome side effects that accompany both the current oral standard of care and another class of medicine called JAK inhibitors, Harler said in a conference call.

“This is really fundamental to why deucravacitinib is going to be a really important new medicine for patients,” she said.

In the same call, April Armstrong, professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California, said deucravacitinib hits the “sweet spot” between efficacy and safety.

“It’s a once-daily dosing medication so very convenient for our patients to take,” she said. “These different factors combined together will likely position deucravacitinib as the lead oral therapy in moderate-to-severe psoriasis.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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