Regeneron forced to drop Eylea combo, advantage Novartis

pharmafile | November 27, 2017 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Research and Development Eylea, Novartis, Regeneron, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

Novartis released Phase 3 data on its leading candidate for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) drug and it caused a bit of a splash, as it compared strongly to Regeneron’s Eylea.

The latter had the opportunity to hit back with Phase 2 combination data but was forced to lower its dukes after poor results meant that it had to drop the combo treatment.

Regeneron had been looking to pair Eylea with nesvacumab but this appears to be a no-go, after the biotech stated that the results of two trials were not promising enough to pursue further.

“We knew from the start that it would be difficult to improve on the already high bar set by Eylea, which is the market-leading branded therapy in its approved indications, providing significant improvements in vision and strong long-term outcomes in patients with wet AMD and DME,” said George D. Yancopoulos, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron.

He continued, “We expect to report results in the first half of 2018 from our EYLEA Phase 3 study in diabetic retinopathy, which represents a growing patient population with significant need. We also continue to invest in additional R&D approaches in ophthalmology with the goal of providing new innovations to patients with serious vision-threatening diseases.”

One such approach of innovating appears to be its main hope of defence against Novartis’ candidate – to extend the length of time between courses of treatment. Novartis’ RTH258 only needs to be administered every 12 weeks, which represents a significant benefit over the current 8-week treatment cycle of Eylea.

It is known that Regeneron is currently developing a formulation of Eylea that would extend treatment periods to the same level.

The biotech will need to find some way of fighting back against Novartis’ challengers, as treatment duration isn’t the only benefit that its potential rival carries, with fewer instances of abnormal blood vessels leaking fluid into the eye.

It’s unlikely to be a fight that Regeneron will give up on easily, as it reaped sales of $953 million in the third quarter alone.

Ben Hargreaves

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