Aug 9, 2012
Author: Otto Akkerman
Get Ready for a Changing of the Guard in the Autoimmune Market
This morning’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine contains phase III trial results for Pfizer’s novel JAK inhibitor, Tofacitinib.
These positive results are significant to the pharmaceutical community for 2 key reasons:
1) For Pfizer, Tofacitinib, now represents a very promising pipeline drug with legitimate potential for significant revenues after a number of patient expiries and other failed pipeline agents. Tofacitinib represents an alternative to biologic agents for the treatment of autoimmune disease. This alone represents an $8 billion North
American market. The US FDA advisory panel already voted in favour of using Tofacitinib for rheumatoid arthritis pain so we can expect an expedited launch.
2) Tofacitinib is a JAK inhibitor, a type of agent that works by blocking enzymes that, among other things, produce inflammation resulting in joint pain for rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs, including Tofacitinib, also have strong potential for other autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis. At present, there are a number of other JAK inhibitors in early-late stage development and this may produce a broader shift away from biologic agents (such as Humira and Enbrel) for the treatment of autoimmune disease.
Early conversations/reaction among physicians in social media suggest cautious optimism citing a need to demonstrate efficacy beyond placebo comparisons and long-term safety. Still, this is a therapeutic area where most rheumatologists in Canada agree that existing therapies generally fall short in meeting RA patients’ needs. That belief, along with a high proportion of early adopters in the rheumatologist community suggest the drug will do well and enjoy strong trial and uptake in its early days on market.