Germany’s Altana has provided fresh evidence that its inhaled corticosteroid Alvesco (ciclesonide) is free of the systemic side effects thought to affect other drugs in this class.

A new study published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that Alvesco does not affect short-term leg growth in children with mild asthma. Altana has always maintained that ciclesonide’s mechanism of action, in which it is only activated in the lungs, markedly reduces the risk that it will exert any systemic effects. Short-term leg growth, along with cortisol excretion, is one of the most common indicators of systemic exposure to inhaled corticosteroids

“Alvesco has previously been shown to be clinically effective in both adults and children, however prior to this study few assessments of the systemic effects in children were available,” said the study’s lead investigator, Soren Pederson of the University of Southern Denmark.

The results will be a further boost to Altana, which is banking on Alvesco to serve as its next major growth driver once patent protection for its current best-selling drug Pantozol (pantoprazole) starts to be lost in 2009 and onwards [[18/03/05d]].

Alvesco is currently approved in more than 20 countries and to-date has been launched in the UK and Germany [[18/01/05b]]. Altana is planning further Alvesco launches worldwide later this year. A New Drug Application for the drug has been filed in the USA.