A new drug from Novartis AG could be on the market by next year after tests showed that it significantly improved lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD, or “smoker’s lung”, is a debilitating respiratory disease that affects 210 million people worldwide. It is commonly contracted by smokers or people who work with harmful fumes, and is characterised by a persistent obstruction of airflow in the lungs which results in breathlessness.
Phase III trials of the drug QAB149 showed significant improvements over the currently approved respiratory disease medicines formoterol and tiotropium, and significantly improved lung function from the first day of therapy to up to one year of treatment, the Swiss drugmaker said.
Trevor Mundel, head of development at Novartis Pharma, said the treatment is currently being reviewed for approval in the European Union and the US and he believes it will be on the market within 12 months.
Mr Mundel told Reuters: “I think QAB becomes a very substantial opportunity. I think heading towards a blockbuster.”
Novartis is planning to use QAB149 both on its own and as the base of combination treatments with other lung medicines.
Copyright Press Association 2009