Novartis seals two deals to bolster drug pipeline

pharmafile | December 21, 2016 | News story | Research and Development Conatus, Encore Vision, Novartis 

Novartis has consolidated its ophthalmology position by acquiring Encore Vision, a Fort Worth-based US company. The company is focused on developing its treatment for presbyopia, a condition that causes far-sightedness and occurs in 80% of adults over the age of 45. The financials have not been released on the deal.

The lead candidate is EV06, a topical treatment for presbyopia that works by softening the lens of the eye. In presbyopia, the lens becomes increasing hard and results in the loss of near vision, causing issues when reading or performing routine tasks close to hand.

Clinical trials of the treatment, currently at the preliminary Phase 1/2 stage, found that 82% of patients treated with EV06 had 20/40 near vision against 48% of those in the placebo group. There were 50 patients who participated in the trial which took place over 90 days.

“There is a large need for innovative, effective and safe treatment options for people with presbyopia, and there is currently no disease-modifying treatment available at all,” said Vasant Narasimhan, global head, drug development and chief medical officer, Novartis.

Encore Vision was established 10 years ago by Bill Burns, a former executive of Alcon. Novartis acquired Alcon six years ago but the company has struggled of late to improve sales. Novartis will be hoping that Encore Vision enjoys more success.

In a separate deal, Novartis has signed a licensing deal to develop a treatment for fatty liver disease drug alongside Conatus. The deal sees Conatus receive an immediate $50 million, alongside significant milestone payments should its drug, emricasan, reach commercialisation.

The collaboration will see Novartis takeover Phase 3 trials for the drug, alongside its own treatment for the condition, should Conatus succeed with Phase 2b clinical trials.

Ben Hargreaves

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