Incyte-Lilly eczema drug shows promise in Phase 2 study


Eli Lilly and Company Incyte Corporation announced that a combination of treatments using the arthritis drug baricitinib show promise in the treatment of  Atopic dermatitis,  a serious form of eczema.

AD  is  characterized by intense itching, dry skin and inflammation that can be present on any part of the body.  It affects approximately 1-3 percent of adults worldwide.

The Phase 2 study of baricitinib showed  the drug in combination with a mid-potency topical corticosteroid (TCS) significantly improved the signs and symptoms of the condition than with the topical treatment alone. A lower dose of baricitinib was less effective.

 Emma Guttman-Yassky, director of the Laboratory of Inflammatory Skin Diseases in the Department of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York stated that  “these new results suggest that baricitinib may have the potential to become an oral treatment option for patients suffering from atopic dermatitis who are unable to achieve adequate control with TCS.”

The drug does have side effects that include respiratory tract infections and headaches.


Baricitinib was approved in February for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe-active rheumatoid arthritis in the European Union and is marketed as Olumiant.

 In December 2009, Lilly and Incyte announced an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration agreement for the development and commercialization of baricitinib for patients with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

The drug, jointly developed by Lilly and Incyte, was seen at the time as a potential blockbuster.

Baricitinib was submitted for regulatory review seeking marketing approval for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in the U.S., the European Union and Japan in 2016. Baricitinib was approved in the EU in February 2017 and in Japan in July 2017.

However, in  April 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected a new  New Drug Application for baricitinib and is seeking more data.

The drug companies plan to submit an update next year. The news  led to an uptick in Incyte’s share price.

Incyte is based near Wilmington. Pharma giant Lilly is based in Indianapolis.

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