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New Novartis blindness treatment filed in Europe

Published on 02/03/06 at 05:26pm

Lucentis, a new treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration or 'wet AMD' has been submitted by Novartis to the European regulator.

Wet AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people aged over 60 in the western world and Novartis says it is the first treatment to improve vision in sufferers.

The condition is caused by growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision. This leads to the development of scar tissue that destroys the macula, leading to the loss of central vision over a period of months to years.  

Novartis says phase III trials show Lucentis maintained or improved vision in up to 96% of patients treated, regardless of baseline lesion type, lesion size or baseline visual acuity of the patient.

The drug was discovered by Californian biotech company Genentech, who have already filed the new treatment in the US.

Lucentis is chasing another new product in the therapy area, Macugen (pegaptanib sodium injection) a similar product developed by OSI Pharmaceuticals and licensed to Pfizer worldwide.

Pfizer recently received final European marketing approval for Macugen, and analysts expect both products to achieve peak sales around the $500 million mark.

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