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Novartis partner Ophthotech says wet-AMD drug Fovista goes 0-for-3 in PhIII

Ophthotech’s lead drug is now a three-time loser in Phase III.

The biotech $OPHT had already largely written off the anti-PDGF Fovista after it failed the first two pivotal trials late last year, which triggered a company-wide reorganization and deep job cuts. But in case anyone was holding out hope that the drug might still show some signs of efficacy, the biotech reported that their drug combined with either Eylea or Avastin barely edged out either of the two standard anti-VEGFs alone in treating wet, age-related macular degeneration.

Glenn Sblendorio, CEO

This was a drug that Novartis had paid $330 million in upfront and near-term milestones to partner on, with the total deal package weighing in at $1 billion-plus.

This third study recruited 640 patients, checking visual acuity at 12 months. In the combo arm the score averaged a mean gain of 9.42 letters, compared to 9.04 for the standards — that registered at a clinically decisive failure of p=0.74.

The initial failures obliterated the biotech’s market cap — now at $91 million — which in turn sent the company on the hunt for new eye drug deals to restore the pipeline. But there’s been no word on that front. The new game plan calls for a pursuit of new studies for orphan retinal diseases.

There was still room for disappointment among investors this morning, with Ophthotech shares down about 12% in pre-market trading.


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