Lilly arthritis drug beats Humira in Phase III trial

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A couple of days after the failure of its cholesterol drug evacetrapib, Eli Lilly has received some more positive late-stage clinical news on its Incyte-partnered oral rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib. 

The US major has announced positive topline results of RA-BEAM, the fourth successful Phase III study of baricitinib for moderately-to-severely active RA. In the 1,300-patient study, baricitinib significantly improved RA symptoms compared with placebo and also AbbVie’s mega-blockbuster Humira (adalimumab).

David Ricks, head of Lilly Bio-Medicines, said that RA-BEAM is the first study to demonstrate that “a once-daily oral treatment was superior in improving signs and symptoms of RA compared to the current injectable standard of care”. He added that if approved, baricitinib, which is a JAK inhibitor, “could help change expectations for people living with this debilitating disease”.

The data is a boost for Lilly which saw its share price sink earlier this week after the company discontinued development on evacetrapib, a CETP inhibitor, as a late-stage trial revealed  insufficient efficacy.