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Experimental drug for wet macular degeneration shows promise

LONDON (Reuters) – Fovista, an experimental drug from private U.S. biotech Ophthotech, showed impressive results when added to Roche’s Lucentis (ranibizumab) in a large mid-stage clinical trial.

In the Phase IIb clinical trial involving 449 patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), those receiving Fovista and Lucentis gained a mean of 10.6 letters of vision on a standard reading chart at 24 weeks, against 6.5 letters for patients on Lucentis alone, Ophthotech said on Wednesday.

Geoff Meacham, an analyst at JP Morgan, said the 62% increase in visual outcome relative to Lucentis alone raised the bar in treating wet AMD – which is more severe than dry AMD – and suggested a new competitive threat for recently launched Eylea (aflibercept, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals).

Ophthotech’s Fovista (formerly known as E10030) works in a different way to Lucentis and Eylea, making it a potentially valuable add-on therapy that could set a new standard for treatment. While Lucentis and Eylea work by blocking vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), Fovista blocks platelet derived growth factor (PDGF).