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Hot-selling Lilly anti-inflammatory drug passes key hurdle for third use

February 15, 2018

One of Eli Lilly and Co.’s fastest-growing drugs, an anti-inflammatory medicine called Taltz, has cleared an in-house hurdle to treat a third condition, a type of back stiffness.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker said this week that Taltz met its endpoints in a late-stage study of patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine and other joints.

The disorder affects about 3 million people, many of them under the age of 30, according to the Spondylitis Association of America.

The condition affects a patient’s posture and mobility, and can lead to severe, chronic pain, Dr. Lotus Mallbris, vice president and platform team leader for immunology at Lilly, said in an interview Thursday. “It can be very much disabling.”

Lilly said it must complete one more study, and if that is successful, the drugmaker hopes to submit Taltz to the Food and Drug Administration for approval for the additional use.

Last year, Taltz rang up sales of $559.2 million, an increase of nearly 400 percent from a year earlier, making it the drugmaker’s second-fastest growing product for the year, after cancer drug Lartruvo.

Goldman Sachs analyst Jami Rubin has predicted sales of Taltz could hit $2.5 billion a year by 2025.

The drug works by using an antibody to inhibit a protein called interleukin 17, interrupting the body’s chemical inflammation.

Lilly launched Taltz in 2016 to treat moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, and got approval in December 2017 for a second use, treating adults with psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that affects about 1.6 million Americans.

The drug, also known by its generic name, ixekizumab, is administered by injection. It has a list price of about $4,460 a month, although Lilly has said it offers a co-pay program for commercially insured patients to keep the patient’s cost at $5 to $25 a month for two years.

Lilly shares were up 52 cents Thursday morning, to $77.55 each.

 

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