Novartis has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its Beovu drug to treat a cause of vision loss, the Swiss pharmaceuticals company said on Tuesday.
Beovu injections are used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, a condition that can eventually lead to blindness and affects around 20 million people worldwide, the company said, reports Reuters.
Beovu is a key drug for Novartis in its eye care franchise as the Lucentis product the company sells in Europe nears the end of its patent life.
In a highly competitive market Beovu will compete with Lucentis, Bayer’s Eylea and a new product that Novartis rival Roche has under development.
Beovu needs to be used less frequently than existing treatments and can be effective if used every three months, Novartis said.
Frequent injections are a major reason why patients stop treating the condition, which is caused by abnormal blood vessels forming in the eye and leaking fluid, damaging part of the retina.
“With Beovu, greater fluid reduction was demonstrated through larger decreases in retinal thickness and a higher proportion of patients with drier retinas,” said Pravin Dugel, from the University of Southern California, which carried out one of the clinical trials.
“Coupled with the potential to treat patients with quarterly injections, this approval may change the way we approach the treatment of wet AMD,” he added.