UCB’s bimekizumab has a chance after beating Stelara

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UCB’s novel psoriasis project bimekizumab has so far flown under the radar. But topline data from a head-to-head phase III trial pitting it against Johnson & Johnson’s market-leading psoriasis drug, Stelara, have made investors sit up and take notice. UCB’s stock climbed 4% this morning on news that bimekizumab, an IL-17A and IL-17F inhibitor, had outperformed Stelara on Pasi 90 and investigator global assessment score of clear or almost clear in the Be Vivid study. The company did not give detailed data, presumably saving these for a scientific meeting. Although the project is UCB’s most valuable pipeline asset, with EvaluatePharma consensus predicting 2024 sales of $258m, this pales compared with the big hitters in psoriasis. Still, if bimekizumab can keep showing superiority over approved agents, it might have a chance to gain market share. Bimekizumab has others opportunities here, with two more pivotal studies set to read out this year, including a head-to-head against Abbvie’s Humira. Bernstein analysts highlighted the Be Radiant trial due in 2020, versus Novartis’s Cosentyx, as the one to watch, while lamenting that bimekizumab's sales potential might be higher were it in the hands of a bigger player.

Selected phase III trials of bimekizumab
Trial name Comparator Trial ID Data due
Psoriasis
Be Vivid Vs Stelara and placebo NCT03370133 Met co-primary endpoints & showed superiority to Stelara
Be Ready Vs placebo NCT03410992 Primary completion Dec 2018
Be Sure Vs Humira and placebo NCT03412747 Primary completion Feb 2019
Be Radiant Vs Cosentyx and placebo NCT03536884 Primary completion Sep 2019
N/A Autoinjector device study NCT03766685 Primary completion Jul 2020
Be Bright Uncontrolled long-term study NCT03598790 Primary completion Dec 2022
Psoriatic arthritis
Be Complete Vs placebo NCT03896581 Primary completion Feb 2021
Be Optimal Vs Humira and placebo NCT03895203 Primary completion Jul 2021
Axial spondylarthritis
Be Mobile 2 Vs placebo NCT03928743 Primary completion Jan 2021
Be Mobile 1 Vs placebo NCT03928704 Primary completion Feb 2021
Source: EvaluatePharma, clinicaltrials.gov

 

Top five psoriasis drugs in 2024
      Annual psoriasis sales ($m)
Product Company Mechanism 2018 2024e
Stelara Johnson & Johnson IL-12 antibody & IL-23 antibody 3,335 4,463
Cosentyx Novartis IL-17 antibody 2,002 4,134
Skyrizi Abbvie IL-23 antibody - 3,278
Otezla Amgen PDE4 inhibitor 1,374 2,461
Tremfya Johnson & Johnson IL-23 antibody 544 2,358
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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