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ThromboGenics partners Alcon to launch ophthalmic medicines in Denmark and Sweden

ThromboGenics : 29 May, 2013  (Company News)
ThromboGenics, an integrated biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative ophthalmic medicines, is partnering Alcon to launch JETREA in Denmark and Sweden, the third and fourth European markets where the product is now available.

Alcon plans to roll out the drug in Finland and Norway in the future.

In mid-March 2013, JETREA was approved by the European Commission (EC) for the treatment of vitreomacular traction (VMT), including when associated with a macular hole of diameter less than or equal to 400 microns.

Alcon's first European launch of JETREA took place in the UK in April 2013, followed by Germany earlier in May 2013. Alcon, a division of Novartis, acquired the rights to commercialize JETREA outside the United States in March 2012.  

Under the terms of the deal ThromboGenics has already received €165 million in upfront and milestone payments, including €90 million following EMA approval of JETREA and first injection (UK) in patients. The company could receive a further €210 million in milestones plus royalties on Alcon's sales of JETREA.

ThromboGenics launched JETREA in the USA in mid-January 2013 where it is approved for the treatment of patients with symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (VMA). US sales since launch are in line with the company's expectations.

Dr Patrik De Haes, Chief Executive Officer of ThromboGenics, said: "We are extremely encouraged by our partner Alcon's rapid progress in making JETREA  available across  Europe. We look forward to further launches across the Nordic region and other countries to ensure that patients are able to have access to the first pharmacological treatment for VMT including when associated with a macular hole of diameter less than or equal to 400 microns."      

JETREA contains the active substance ocriplasmin. The drug is administered through a single intravitreal injection to treat adults with vitreomacular traction (VMT).

VMT, which in the USA is referred to as symptomatic VMA, is an age-related progressive, sight-threatening condition. VMT is caused by the vitreous humour having an abnormally strong attachment to the macula, the central part of the retina (the light sensitive membrane at the back of the eye). The macula provides central vision that is needed for everyday tasks such as driving, reading and recognizing faces.

When the vitreous humour shrinks, the strong attachment results in a pulling force on the retina, which may lead to visual distortion, decreased visual acuity and central blindness. When the disease progresses the traction may eventually result in the formation of a hole in the macula (called a macular hole).

JETREA breaks down the protein fibres which cause the abnormal traction between the vitreous and the macula that causes VMT. By dissolving these proteins, JETREA releases the traction, and helps to complete the detachment of the vitreous from the macula.

JETREA can also be used when VMT has progressed and caused a small hole in the macula (central part of the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye).

It is estimated that 250,000 to 300,000 patients in Europe alone suffer from this condition.      

Currently the only available treatment in the EU is 'observation' or 'watchful waiting' until a patient becomes a surgical candidate, usually at a late stage of the disease. A patient would then receive a surgical procedure and repair of the retina. However, for many patients this is not a suitable option, as irreversible damage to the retina may have already occurred.

ThromboGenics continues to work closely with Alcon to help develop the necessary infrastructure so that patients across Europe and beyond can access this innovative medicine and receive JETREA as soon as it becomes available in the respective countries.

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