NICE confirms recommendation for sight-saving VMT drug

Jetrea web NICE’s Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) has confirmed a recommendation for Jetrea (ocriplasmin) as a treatment for vitreomacular traction (VMT) in both early and late stages.

The FAD, for the first time, confirms that metamorphopsia (blurred vision) is a “severe and distressing” symptom requiring early treatment by the NHS.

Developed by Belgian company ThromboGenics, Jetrea is being commercialised by Alcon, a subsidiary of Novartis, in the UK.

NICE’s identification of blurred vision as a severe problem underlies its recommendation of Jetrea for patients with early-stage VMT symptoms, as well as for patients in whom VMT has caused a ‘macular hole’.

VMT is caused by the vitreous humour attaching to the macula, with potential damage to macular tissue. Jetrea, an injectable drug, dissolves the protein fibres that cause the abnormal traction.

No other medicine for VMT exists. The current strategy is to ‘watch and wait’ until the damage requires surgical intervention – by which time vision is already impaired.

Dr Patrik De Haes, CEO of ThromboGenics, said: “There is growing evidence that prolonged VMT may lead to progressive loss of vision and increase a risk that subsequent intervention may be less successful.

“With Jetrea patients could, for the first time, be offered a reimbursed alternative to watchful waiting, meaning they will no longer have to wait until vision deteriorates.”

In a phase III trial, VMT was resolved in 27% of patients given Jetrea compared to 10% of those given placebo. Jetrea was launched in the UK by Alcon in April.

ThromboGenics has received €90m in milestone payments from Alcon, its strategic partner. It could receive a total of €375m as well as significant royalties.

The two companies intend to share the costs equally of developing Jetrea for further indications in eye treatment.