New eye disorder drug launched in UK

CB011723 Jetrea (ocriplasmin), a drug used to help prevent sight loss through vitreomacular traction (VMT), has been launched in the UK.

The launch by Alcon, a division of Novartis, represents the drug’s first entry into the European market.

Developed by Belgian company ThromboGenics, Jetrea could help to save the sight of over 250,000 patients in Europe.

Alcon has entered into a partnership with ThromboGenics to sell Jetrea outside the US.

The manufacturer has now received two €45m milestone payments from Alcon: one for the drug’s EU approval and one for its first sale in the UK.

Jetrea is currently undergoing NICE appraisal, with guidance expected near the end of 2013.

VMT is a progressive age-related condition in which the vitreous humour becomes too strongly attached to the retina, eventually tearing it.

Administered by a single injection, Jetrea (an enzyme suspension) breaks down the protein fibres that cause traction on the retina. It can prevent damage to the retina or stop existing damage from becoming worse.

The only current treatment is late-stage surgery to repair a damaged retina, but this is often too late to save the patient’s sight.

“The launch of Jetrea in Europe by Alcon so shortly after gaining European approval is testimony of our joint commitment to ensuring patients in Europe have access to this innovative drug as soon as possible,” said Dr Patrik De Haes, CEO of ThromboGenics.

“We expect that Alcon will roll out Jetrea into other European markets in the coming months and are working with our partner to ensure that all the support for physicians, payers and patients is fully in place.”