Novartis eye drug works at less frequent dosing than rival's


ZURICH, June 20 (Reuters) - Novartis <NOVN.S> eye drug
RTH258 works as well as a rival product from Regeneron <REGN.O>
and at less frequent dosing in clinical trials, the Swiss
drugmaker said on Tuesday, boosting its shares.
    The drug, whose generic name is brolucizumab, aims to treat
neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), the leading
cause of severe vision loss and blindness in people over the age
of 65 in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
    Head-to-head late-stage trials showed RTH258 worked as well
as Regeneron's Eylea, developed with Bayer <BAYGn.DE>. This was
achieved with over half the patients dosed every 12 weeks
compared to every eight weeks with Eylea.
    Novartis shares rose 0.8 percent by 0826 GMT, outpacing a
0.2 percent gain in the Stoxx European health care sector index
    In a note to investors, analysts at Jefferies called this "a
significant differentiator and competitive advantage for RTH258"
and cited previousl estimates that success in the trials could
boost Novartis's earnings per share and valuation by around 2
percent in the medium term.
    Zuercher Kantonalbank analyst Michael Nawrath said the data
should help Novartis win back share in a highly lucrative market
of 20-25 million patients.
    Regeneron is betting on two key treatments - sarilumab, to
treat rheumatoid arthritis, and Dupixent - to reduce its
reliance on Eylea, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of total
revenue. [nL4N1I64P5]
    Eylea has powered much of the company's growth since late
2011. However, the drug's sales growth has slowed in recent
quarters, mainly due to competition from Lucentis, marketed by
Novartis and Roche AG <ROG.S>.

 (Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by Louise Heavens)
 ((; +41 58 306 7336;))

Keywords: NOVARTIS RTH258/

This article appears in: World Markets , Stocks , Economy , Commodities
Referenced Symbols: BAYGN , NOVN , REGN , ROG

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