Novartis eye drug works
at less frequent dosing than rival's
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[June 20, 2017]
ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis eye
drug RTH258 works as well as a rival product from Regeneron and at less
frequent dosing in clinical trials, the Swiss drugmaker said on Tuesday,
boosting its shares.
The drug, whose generic name is brolucizumab, aims to treat
neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), the leading
cause of severe vision loss and blindness in people over the age of
65 in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
Head-to-head late-stage trials showed RTH258 worked as well as
Regeneron's Eylea, developed with Bayer. This was achieved with over
half the patients dosed every 12 weeks compared to every eight weeks
Novartis shares rose 0.8 percent by 0826 GMT, outpacing a 0.2
percent gain in the Stoxx European health care sector index.
In a note to investors, analysts at Jefferies called this "a
significant differentiator and competitive advantage for RTH258" and
cited previous estimates that success in the trials could boost
Novartis's earnings per share and valuation by around 2 percent in
the medium term.
Zuercher Kantonalbank analyst Michael Nawrath said the data should
help Novartis win back share in a highly lucrative market of 20-25
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is betting on two key treatments – sarilumab, to treat rheumatoid
arthritis, and Dupixent – to reduce its reliance on Eylea, which
accounts for nearly 70 percent of total revenue.
Eylea has powered much of the company's growth since late 2011.
However, the drug's sales growth has slowed in recent quarters,
mainly due to competition from Lucentis, marketed by Novartis and
(Reporting by Michael Shields, editing
by Louise Heavens)
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