Incyte, Novartis Initiate Phase 3 Jakavi Drug Study For Coronavirus Treatment  

Global biotech company Incyte (INCY) announced on Friday that it has initiated a Phase 3 clinical trial in collaboration with Novartis (NVS) to test the potential of its Jakavi drug in patients infected with the coronavirus-caused COVID-19.

Jakavi is used in adults with bone marrow cancer, or myelofibrosis, among other conditions. Incyte and Novartis seek to evaluate if the drug helps COVID-19 patients suffering from an immune system overreaction, also called a cytokine storm, which could result in complications like pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome. The Phase 3 study will compromise about 400 patients globally. The collaborative study will be sponsored by Incyte in the U.S. and Novartis outside of the U.S.

Incyte shares rose 4.5% on Friday to close at $100.

In addition, given the urgent nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Incyte also announced that is initiating a separate emergency Expanded Access Program (EAP) in the U.S. The protocol will allow eligible patients with severe COVID-19 associated cytokine storm to receive the Jakavi drug while it is being investigated for this purpose.

“There is an unprecedented unmet medical need for treatments that prevent or reduce severe COVID-19 related complications to improve outcomes for patients and alleviate the overwhelming pressure on the global healthcare system,” said Steven Stein, Chief Medical Officer at Incyte. “We thank the FDA for the expedited review of the RUXCOVID study and hope to enroll this important clinical trial as quickly as possible to determine the potential utility of ruxolitinib [Jakavi] for treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 associated cytokine storm.”

Wall Street analysts have a Moderate Buy consensus rating on Incyte based on 9 Buys and 5 Holds. The $88.40 average analyst price target indicates a 12% downside potential in the shares over the coming 12 months. (See Incyte stock analysis on TipRanks).
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