ThromboGenics/Novartis’ Jetrea gains NICE ‘yes’

pharmafile | August 30, 2013 | News story | |  Alcon, Jetrea, NICE, Novartis, ThromboGenics 

NICE has recommended ThromboGenics and Novartis’ eye drug Jetrea in final draft guidance, opening the door to full NHS approval.

The drugs watchdog has deemed the treatment’s price tag of £2,500 per one-dose course cost effective, and will publish its final guidance in October.

Jetrea (ocriplasmin) is administered by injection to the eye and is used as an alternative to surgery in the treatment of vitreomacular traction (VMT).

This relatively rare condition occurs when the eye’s vitreous humour – its internal gel-like substance – begins to pull abnormally on the light-processing retina.

This can lead to swelling, visual impairment and, in some cases, the formation of a hole on the retina’s macular area.

The incidence of VMT in the UK is unknown, according to NICE, and its cause has yet to be discovered. It is, however, thought to be an age-related disease.

King’s College Hospital consultant retinal surgeon Tim Jackson, said: “People affected by vitreomacular traction or macular hole suffer vision changes that can have a significant impact on their life, making it difficult to read, watch TV, drive, or keep their jobs in some cases.”

He added: “Today’s decision is an important step forward in increasing the treatment options for patients and eye doctors.”

Marketing rights for Jetrea outside the US were sold by Belgium-based ThromboGenics, which developed the drug, to Novartis subsidiary Alcon last year in a deal worth over £240 million.

Annual sales are expected to reach the equivalent of £215 million in those territories, according to one analyst quoted by Bloomberg.

Jetrea is the first and only non-surgical treatment for vitreomacular traction licensed in Europe and North America. Earlier this week, ThromboGenics reported a 37% rise in revenues based on the launch of its new drug in those territories.

Director of NICE’s health technology evaluation centre Carole Longson, said she expected the drug to be welcomed by clinicians and patients, adding that NICE was ‘pleased’ to recommend the treatment.

Providing the regulator does not dramatically change its decision, Jetrea will be available to NHS patients throughout England and Wales once final draft guidance is published in October.

Hugh McCafferty


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