Data on Novartis' Ultibro Breezhaler

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Novartis (NVS) recently announced encouraging data on Ultibro Breezhaler from the development programme, IGNITE, at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The IGNITE programme comprises 11 studies. The first eight studies were completed in 2012.

New analyses of the data revealed that patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (:COPD) and treated with Ultibro Breezhaler showed significant improvement in lung function, reduction in the shortness of breath/breathlessness and better quality of life as compared to placebo.

We note that Novartis already has Arcapta Neohaler/Onbrez Breezhaler and Seebri Breezhaler in its product portfolio for treating COPD patients. 

Ultibro Breezhaler is a fixed-dose combination of Onbrez Breezhaler and Seebri Breezhaler. Novartis is developing Ultibro Breezhaler as a once daily treatment for COPD, in a single-dose dry-powder inhaler. 

We remind investors that Novartis received a positive opinion from the CHMP on Ultibro Breezhaler as a maintenance bronchodilator treatment to relieve symptoms in adult patients with COPD in Jul 2013.

Meanwhile, Novartis also has another pipeline candidate, BYM338, which is being developed for COPD. 

We are encouraged by the pipeline progress at Novartis. We remind investors that Novartis upped its 2013 guidance based on solid performance in the first half and lower-than-expected generic erosion. The delayed entry of generic Diovan Mono (high blood pressure) in the U.S. continues to positively impact results. 

Novartis now expects sales to increase in the low single digits in 2013 as compared to the earlier expectation of being in line with 2012. Sales in the Pharmaceutical Division are expected to be in line with 2012 compared to the previous estimate of a low single-digit decline. 

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD), Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) and Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX) look attractive, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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