Novartis' Own Study Puts Tekturna On Its Death Bed

| About: Novartis AG (NVS)

When Novartis (NYSE:NVS) commissioned its own study to determine if Tekturna could help patients with severe renal disease due to Type 2 diabetes it was hoping the results would bolster Tekturna's underwhelming sales. However, the study might lead to Novartis abandoning the drug altogether.

Tekturna is a novel drug used to treat blood pressure and help prevent end organ damage in diabetics. When Tekturna was originally approved in 2007 Novartis thought they had a blockbuster on their hand. Tekturna works on the same pathway as the extremely popular ACE inhibitors and ARB class medications but works further "upstream" blocking the effects of renin on angiotensinogen.

However, generic competition and poor clinical results hindered the medications sales. To help increase sales, Novartis conducted a study to determine if Tekturna would help patients with type 2 diabetes and renal impairment. The results turned out to be less than spectacular. They were so bad in fact Novartis was forced to stop the study early due to patient safety concerns. Tekturna was shown to increase the risk of hypotension, stroke, hyperkalemia, and renal complications when used in combination with an ACE-Inhibitor or ARB.

Tekturna was Novartis' 16th best selling drug in 2010, accounting for 438 million dollars in sales. Novartis hoped that this study would build some momentum behind Tekturna sales to offset the lost sales of Diovan. Diovan, which will be facing generic competition in 2012, currently is Novartis' best selling medication. Since Tekturna represents less than 2% of Novartis total sales and the drug wasn't very profitable, its failure should not have a negative impact on earnings.

The study mostly represents a failure to increase future profits through Tekturna sales. This once promising drug might be sold to another drug company or possibly be abandoned all together.

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