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ThromboGenics Falls as Eye Drug Fails in Mid-Stage Trial

May 17 (Bloomberg) -- ThromboGenics NV fell the most in almost four months after reporting that its eye drug Jetrea, which the company began selling in the U.S. this year, failed in a mid-stage study targeting an expanded use.

The shares fell as much as 5.8 percent, the biggest intraday decline since Jan. 21, and were down 3.6 percent to 35.84 euros at 9:19 a.m. in Brussels. ThromboGenics has gained 55 percent in the past year, compared with a 31 percent advance in the BEL 20 Index.

In the trial among patients with an eye condition known as vitreomacular adhesion 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 placebo, the Heverlee, Belgium-based company said yesterday in a 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, ThromboGenics said.

“I would have liked to see some stronger numbers,” said Jan De Kerpel, an analyst at KBC Securities in Brussels. “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.

European Approval

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.

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

Jetrea earned $10.2 million through the end of April, ThromboGenics said. The company also received milestone payments of 90 million euros ($116 million) from partner Novartis AG after the drug’s European approval and the start of sales in the U.K.

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, De Kerpel said.

“That’s a very good number, that’s what I was hoping to see,” he said.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kristen Hallam at khallam@bloomberg.net

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