2009.09.22 – Incyte says psoriasis drug meets main goal, shares up

Incyte says psoriasis drug meets main goal, shares up

Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:23am IST

* Drug meets primary and secondary goals

* Drug was well-tolerated at all doses

* Shares rise nearly 11 percent (Recasts; adds analyst comments, updates share movement)

By Jennifer Robin Raj

BANGALORE, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Incyte Corp (INCY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said its topical treatment INCB18424 for psoriasis met the main and secondary goals in a mid-stage trial, sending its shares up nearly 11 percent.

“The movement we see today reflects the first real credit that investors are giving Incyte for topical 424 (INCB18424) for psoriasis,” said Robert W. Baird analyst Thomas Russo.

However, compared to the company’s experimental drugs for myelofibrosis and rheumatoid arthritis, which have been the focus of investors, the commercial opportunity for psoriasis is much smaller, he said.

Incyte’s drug pipeline targets several indications, including diabetes and breast cancer, and the company is also developing an oral formulation of 424 for myelofibrosis, a disorder of the bone marrow.

In the psoriasis trial, 424 showed a statistically significant improvement over dummy drug in the reduction in total lesion score — the primary goal.

Psoriasis is a skin disorder, which can cause thick red skin lesions that are often itchy, sometimes painful and covered by silvery scales.

The three-month study compared three once-daily doses of topical 424 in 200 patients with mild-to-moderate psoriasis. The drug was well tolerated at all doses and no clinically significant effects were noted in hematology or other laboratory parameters, the company added.

“Today’s announcement provides validation for topical 424 in psoriasis and additional proof-of-concept for JAK2 inhibition in autoimmune disorders,” Cowen & Co analyst Eric Schmidt wrote in a note to clients.

Janus kinases (JAK) are enzymes that mediate signaling of several important drivers of inflammatory diseases and certain bone marrow disorders. Incyte’s topical 424 is a JAK inhibitor.

“The news is unlikely to have material impact on Incyte’s prospects or financial condition”, analyst Schmidt said, adding that the market for topical psoriasis drugs was relatively modest and controlled by a few players.

Shares of Incyte were trading up nearly 9 percent at $7.92 in afternoon trade on Nasdaq. They touched a high of $8.07 earlier in the session. (Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)