Novartis’ Cosentyx (secukinumab) has become the first IL-17 inhibitor to win European approval for first-line treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis.

The European Commission has approved the drug as a first-line systemic treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis in adults who are candidates for systemic therapy.

According to the Swiss drug giant, the green light is “a significant milestone in the treatment of psoriasis” because it offers patients a new first-line biologic treatment option for the first time; other biologics currently on the market for the disease in Europe are all second-line options.

"Nearly half of psoriasis patients are not content with current therapies, including biologic treatments, showing a significant unmet need for patients,” said David Epstein, Division Head, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and he claimed that Cosentyx, with a first-line systemic indication for treatment of psoriasis, will provide patients “a better chance of achieving clear or almost clear skin”.

Clinical trials of the drug have shown high rates of clear to almost clear skin after 12 weeks’ treatment, as well as superiority to Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept) and Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara (ustekinumab). 

In the US a decision on Cosentyx is anticipated early this year, but the signs are good: the Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee unanimously recommended its approval to the FDA back in October.