December 12, 2016 / 7:53 AM / 7 months ago

Novartis eye drug franchise takes hit with failed Fovista studies

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ZURICH, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis's bid to bolster its eye drug portfolio suffered a setback on Monday when it announced combining Lucentis with Fovista in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) did not produce better outcomes than treatment with Lucentis alone.

Two phase III studies that combined Ophthotech's Fovista with Lucentis "did not meet the primary endpoint of superiority", Novartis said in a statement.

Two years ago, Novartis signed a potential $1 billion licensing deal with Ophthotech to market Fovista outside the United States. It had hoped a successful combination with Lucentis could help it counter sales erosion of Lucentis, which has been hurt by competition from other drugs.

Novartis said it still hoped that underlying data it will continue to analyse would provide further understanding and guidance on helping nAMD patients.

"The proven efficacy of Lucentis monotherapy was not improved by the addition of" Fovista, said Vasant Narasimhan, Novartis's chief drug development officer. "Together with Ophthotech we continue to analyse the data." (Editing by Jason Neely)

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