ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis drug Jakavi achieved its main goal in a late-stage trial for patients suffering from a rare blood cancer, putting it on track to become a potential blockbuster treatment with sales of $1 billion-plus.
Jakavi is already approved to treat myelofibrosis, a form of blood cancer, and was tested in a Phase III trial for patients with polycythemia vera, an incurable cancer associated with the overproduction of blood cells.
When compared with the best available therapy, the drug was able to maintain red blood cell volume without the need for phlebotomy and reduce spleen size in certain patients, Novartis said in a statement on Friday.
The Swiss drugmaker plans to submit the data to global regulators this year.
Jakavi is one of Novartis' so-called growth products and achieved sales of $163 million last year, up from $30 million in 2012. Novartis licensed the drug from Incyte Corp and markets the medicine outside of the United States.
"With the additional indication of polycythemia vera now likely to get approved next year, Jakavi definitely emerges as another new drug with blockbuster potential for Novartis," J. Safra Sarasin analyst David Kaegi said.
Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss forecasts peak sales of 500 million Swiss francs ($567 million) for each therapeutic application.
The positive data for Jakavi comes after French competitor Sanofi was forced to halt all clinical trials and cancel plans to seek regulatory approval of fedratinib, its drug to treat myelofibrosis, because of safety concerns.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley and Alice Baghdjian; Editing by David Goodman)