December 4, 2018 / 6:58 AM / 12 days ago

Novartis goes after Roche asthma medicine Xolair with new drug

ZURICH, Dec 4 (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

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