Novartis has announced that despite “encouraging” results, its psoriatic arthritis drug Cosentyx (secukinumab) “narrowly missed” achieving statistical significance for superiority compared to Himura (adalimumab).

The company confirmed that statistically significant advantages of Cosentyx versus Humira in PsA-specific endpoints were observed in a pre-specified sensitivity analysis, and the trial demonstrated a consistent and favorable safety profile for Cosentyx in line with previous clinical trials.

The Novartis medication is the only biologic with proven efficacy in all key manifestations of psoriatic arthritis, and is backed by five-year sustained efficacy and consistent safety data across psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriasis. To date, over 250,000 patients have been treated worldwide

Humira, on the other hand, still holds the crown for being the world’s best selling drug, bringing Illinois-based AbbVie nearly $20 billion in revenue in 2018.

The head-to-head trial, dubbed the EXCEED trial, is the first of its kind, and despite being pipped to the post, the encouraging Cosentyx data will be “welcomed by patients and clinicians to guide clinical decision making and highlight secukinumab as a viable option as a first-line biologic for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis,” said Iain McInnes, professor of rheumatology, University of Glasgow.

PsA is part of a family of life-long inflammatory diseases (spondyloarthritis) that target the joints and is closely associated with psoriasis. Approximately 40% of patients with psoriasis have PsA, and as many as one in four people with psoriasis may have undiagnosed PsA.