Novartis has announced positive results from the two pivotal Phase III studies of ACZ885 (canakinumab), a drug that could be used to treat gouty arthritis.

The two Phase III, 12-week, randomised, multicentre, double-blind, double dummy and active-controlled studies included about 450 gouty arthritis patients and showed that the drug provided pain relief and reduced the risk of new attacks by up to 68% compared to an injectable steroid.

Professor Alexander So of the rheumatology department at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland, said that the findings show that ACZ885 represents an advance in the treatment of gouty arthritis in sufferers whose disease cannot be appropriately managed with currently available treatments.

ACZ885 acts by targeting interleukin-1 beta, which is the cause of pain in gouty arthritis.