Pfizer psoriasis drug succeeds in clinical trials

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Pfizer Inc. reported Wednesday that two late-stage clinical trials of its experimental treatment for a chronic psoriasis condition proved successful.

The pharmaceutical giant, which discovered and developed the drug tofacitinib at its laboratories in Groton, said the so-called JAK inhibitor was shown to be comparable to the standard treatment Enbrel when patients received the medicine at a 10 milligram dose in a trial called OPT Compare. At a 5 milligram dose, however, tofacitinib was not as effective, the company said.

Pfizer also said that a separate study known as OPT Retreatment showed that adult patients using tofacitinib to treat moderate or severe chronic plaque psoriasis were more likely to continue responding to treatment than those given a placebo.

And when patients who lost their treatment response were put back on the Pfizer drug, the company said, many saw improved symptoms. This is important because psoriasis patients frequently stop and restart therapies.

"We are excited to see progress in our development program in psoriasis," Dr. Steven Romano, senior vice president and the head of the Medicines Development Group for Pfizer Specialty Care, said in a statement.

Romano said the results were in line with company expectations and earlier experiments. Tofacitinib is being put through three other late-stage clinical trials that will give a more complete picture of the drug's effect on psoriasis patients.

Pfizer said tofacitinib, a drug marketed as Xeljanz to treat rheumatoid arthritis, maintained the safety profile seen in other studies.

The company added that the results of two other studies examining tofacitinib's effect on psoriasis patients are expected to be released in the second quarter of next year.

l.howard@theday.com

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