Jetrea Launched by Novartis in the UK
Novartis’ Alcon unit has released Jetrea in the UK, its first market. The launch is under a month after European Commission approved Jetrea for the treatment of vitreomacular traction.
Vitreomacular traction (VMT) is an age-related progressive, sight-threatening condition. Jetrea was approved for VMT, including when associated with macular hole of diameter less than or equal to 400 microns.
The approval resulted in a 45 million milestone payment from Alcon to ThromboGenics as part of the licensing deal they signed a year ago.
The initial sale of Jetrea, which is administered by a one-time, single intravitreal injection, will boost the Belgian biotech’s finances by an additional 45 million euros. The drug is presently going through a single technology appraisal (STA) by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the outcome of the STA, which will decide on reimbursement, is anticipated for the Q4 of 2013.
Jetrea is the only drug approved for vitreomacular traction, which is caused by the vitreous humour having an abnormally strong attachment to the central part of the retina which may lead to visual distortion, decreased visual acuity and central blindness. It is estimated that 250,000-300,000 patients across Europe currently suffer from the condition, and the only available treatment in the EU has been ‘observation’ or ‘watchful waiting’ until a patient receives surgery, which for many patients is not a suitable option.
Patrik De Haes, chief executive at ThromboGenics, which markets Jetrea in the USA, commented that he expects Alcon will roll out the drug into other European markets in the coming months and his firm is “working with our partner to ensure that all the support for physicians, payers and patients is fully in place.”