Novartis has presented data showing that its chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Ultibro was superior in reducing flare-ups compared to GlaxoSmithKline’s blockbuster Seretide.

The head-to-head, Phase III FLAME trial met its primary endpoint of showing that Ultibro Breezhaler (indacaterol/glycopyrronium) was non-inferior to Seretide (salmeterol/fluticasone) and furthermore demonstrated superiority to twice-daily Seretide in reducing the rate of all COPD exacerbations over one year of treatment.

The findings echo those of the head-to-head LANTERN study published last year, which also showed that Ultibro was superior in reducing flare-ups and improving lung function versus twice-daily Seretide Accuhaler (salmeterol/fluticasone), cutting the moderate-to-severe exacerbations by 31% compared to Seretide in patients with a history of one exacerbation or none in the previous year.

"We believe FLAME challenges our historical reliance on inhaled corticosteroids and may support expanding the use of dual bronchodilators to both exacerbating and non-exacerbating COPD patients,” noted Vasant Narasimhan, Global Head of Development at Novartis Pharmaceuticals.