Swiss drugmaker Novartis said its drug omalizumab significantly improved itch in patients with a severe form of hives, according to a late-stage study.

The second of three late-stage studies found that more than one third of patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) who were treated with the drug were completely itch and hive-free after 12 weeks compared to 5 percent of patients on placebo.

Omalizumab, which is also known as Xolair, is already approved for treating severe asthma. Novartis said it was on track to submit omalizumab for regulatory approval in patients with CSU later this year.