Novartis AG (ADR)(NYSE:NVS) has released data showing that the pharmaceutical giant’s RTH258 therapy demonstrated more efficacy compared to Eylea, a drug manufactured by rivals. According to Novartis only in 23.5% of patients suffering from RTH258 was disease observed at 16 weeks. In the case of Eylea, on the other hand, the percentage of patients from RTH258 where active disease was observed was 33.5%. This was in an investigation treatment study.
In another similar study active disease was found in around 21.9% of patients suffering from RTH258 compared to 31.4% of the patients who were put on Eylea. RTH258 affects between 20 and 25 million people across the globe.
Five months ago Novartis disclosed that initial data had shown that its treatment would require fewer injections into the eye compared to Eylea but would just be as effective with regards to vision. It also demonstrated the same safety profile.
Novartis is now hoping that the latest analysis, which was released in New Orleans during a conference organised by the American Academy of Opthalmology, will assist RTH258 in competition with Eylea and Lucentis which are both sold by Roche in the U.S.
“When you take all of that together … we believe we have a very compelling proposition,” said Vas Narasimhan, the chief drug developer at Novartis as well as the CEO-designate of the pharmaceutical giant.
Novartis is now predicting that RTH258 will reach blockbuster status with sales of over $1 billion once it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drugmaker is planning to make a filing for its approval late next year.
One complication that might arise however is the fact that the pharmaceutical giant owns the rights of Lucentis in Europe and where it is obligated to keep on marketing it. In three years the patent of Lucentis will expire and the market will obviously be flooded with cheaper copies. There is also competition to contend with. Eylea currently generates $5 billion per year in sales against the $3.2 billion that Lucentis generates.
In Friday’s trading session shares of Novartis AG edged downwards by 0.12% to close the day’s session at $82.38 per share.