Novartis says no liver toxicity seen so far its BTK inhibitor

FRANKFURT, April 25 (Reuters) – Novartis (NOVN.S) said no signs of liver damage had been seen in trials testing its anti-inflammatory drug candidate remibrutinib so far, voicing cautious optimism that it could elude the side effects that have beset rival products in the same drug class.

“We have yet to see any liver toxicity,” CEO Vas Narasimhan said on an analyst call after the release of first-quarter results.

Competitor Merck KGaA (MRCG.DE) said this month U.S. regulators had paused the addition of new patients to a trial testing similar drug evobrutinib against multiple sclerosis, knocking the German drugmaker’s share price.

Sanofi had run into similar problems with a drug candidate in the same class, known as Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors.

“We believe this is related to medicines and not to BTK as a target,” said CEO Narasimhan, cautioning that there were no guarantees.

Novartis, also competing with Roche’s (ROG.S) fenebrutinib, is testing remibrutinib against urticaria skin rashes and against multiple sclerosis.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger Editing by Madeline Chambers

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Source: Reuters