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Regeneron Drug Effectively Treats Vision Loss

June 15, 2011
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Reuters reports, a proposed eye medicine from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Bayer AG was found by U.S. drug reviewers to be an effective way of treating vision loss from macular degeneration, raising expectations it will be recommended for approval. The drug, under the proposed trade name Eylea, is as effective as the similar Lucentis treatment from Roche Holding, Food and Drug Administration staff said in documents released on Wednesday. Analysts said the FDA did not raise any major issues with Eylea and expect an advisory panel to recommend approval. The drug, known as VEGF Trap-Eye, uses a mechanism similar to the one employed by Lucentis to preserve vision in patients with the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) -- the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. Both drugs block vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein involved in the creation of blood vessels. The condition progressively worsens as blood vessels leak fluid and blood under the retina, creating scar tissue. In clinical trials, VEGF Trap-Eye injected every two months was as safe and effective in maintaining vision as Lucentis injections given monthly. The FDA will ask the advisory panel to review appropriate dosing and labeling at its meeting. Regeneron has full marketing rights to VEGF Trap-Eye in the United States and would share overseas profits equally with Germany''s Bayer if the product wins regulatory approval. Roche has U.S. rights to Lucentis, while rival Swiss drugmaker Novartis sells it in other countries. Each now gets about $1.5 billion in annual sales from the medicine.

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