Promising mid-stage results for what could be the first bone-building antibody to treat osteoporosis have encouraged two companies that could use a little help from their pipelines to initiate a phase III trial. Amgen the world’s biggest biotech and UCB the Belgian specialty pharma company today announced plans to test AMG 785 (CDP7851) in 5,000 women in a trial that should report in 2015, and show whether the therapy can reduce the incidence of fractures.Introducing an expensive biological into what will be a very genercised market – even Eli Lilly’s bone-building incumbent Forteo will be nearing the end of its market exclusivity by the time the Amgen/UCB antibody can reach prescribing physicians – will be a big ask. Still, Forteo, itself a biological, has been able to carve out blockbuster sales even going up against off-patent drugs by targeting high-risk patients and those intolerant to bisphosphonates, suggesting there is still a place for new treatments.
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