ThromboGenics Reports Jetrea Sales as Drug Fails Mid-Stage Study

ThromboGenics NV (THR) reported sales of its eye drug that reached $10 million after four months on the U.S. market while saying the treatment failed in a study targeting an expanded use.

Jetrea, which ThromboGenics started selling in the U.S. in January, earned $10.2 million through the end of April, the Heverlee, Belgium-based company said today in a statement. The company also received milestone payments of 90 million euros ($116 million) from partner Novartis AG (NOVN) after the drug’s European approval and the start of sales in the U.K., ThromboGenics said.

The revenue data suggest the company has reached about 2,500 patients, and shows the therapy is on target to reach about $50 million in full-year sales, said Jan De Kerpel, an analyst at KBC Securities in Brussels.

“That’s a very good number, that’s what I was hoping to see,” De Kerpel said in a telephone interview.

ThromboGenics has gained 59 percent in the past year, compared with a 36 percent advance in the BEL 20 Index.

Jetrea won U.S. clearance in October and European approval in March for use in treating people with vitreomacular adhesion, or VMA, a condition in which a gel inside the eye that deteriorates with age sticks too strongly to the retina, harming vision. The treatment separates the gel from the retina, restoring sight and averting surgery, which had been the only treatment.

Failed Study

In a mid-stage trial among patients with VMA who also had wet age-related macular adhesion, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly, Jetrea resolved VMA in 24 percent of patients compared with 12 percent who got a sham injection, ThromboGenics said in the statement. The difference wasn’t statistically significant, meaning the result may have been the consequence of chance. Larger trials to confirm the benefit are warranted, the company said.

“I would have liked to see some stronger numbers,” De Kerpel said. “They should do a better designed and better powered study.”

De Kerpel said he’s interested in seeing results for some of the trial’s secondary goals such as the degree to which the patients’ eyesight improved.

About 40 percent of doctors targeted since January have ordered Jetrea, and half of those re-ordered it, ThromboGenics said. The company is selling the drug in the U.S. with its own sales force, and gets royalties on sales in Europe from Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis, which bought European rights to the drug last year in a deal worth as much as 375 million euros.

“We are pleased with the positive reaction to Jetrea from the U.S. retina community, and are confident that this momentum will continue,” Chief Executive Officer Patrik De Haes said in the statement.

About 500,000 people in the U.S. and the major European markets may benefit from Jetrea, ThromboGenics has said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simeon Bennett in Geneva at sbennett9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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