Novartis enhances its focus with eyecare deal

Swiss pharma major Novartis is continuing its quest to excel in a few specialist fields by licensing rights to US firm Ophthotech’s lead candidate, Fovista, for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Novartis will pay $200 million (£118 million) up front, with potential regulatory and sales milestone payments adding up to over $1 billion.

Novartis will market the DNA aptamer-based drug outside of the US, and will investigate combination therapies with complementary AMD drugs it has in development. Fovista is a short length of DNA designed to bind to and inactivate platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). It has performed well in clinical trials in combination with antibody drug Lucentis (ranibizumab), which is marketed by Novartis and binds to vascular endothelial growth factor. Blocking the action of these two growth factor proteins stops blood vessels from growing into the retina, which is the main cause of wet AMD.

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