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New European approval for Lucentis

Novartis has announced that its vision loss treatment Lucentis has been approved for a new indication by the European Commission as GIST treatment Glivec shows success in trials

Novartis has announced that its vision loss treatment Lucentis has been approved for a new indication by the European Commission.

The drug, currently marketed for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), has now been approved for the treatment of vision loss due to macular oedema secondary to retinal vein occlusion (RVO).

RVO is the blockage of a blood vessel in the retina so blood cannot drain out. This can lead to damage of an individual's eyesight.

The approval follows clinical trials where anti- vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy Lucentis showed it improved vision and vision-related quality of life for patients.

Ian Pearce, consultant ophthalmologist, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, commented on the approval: "This is an important step forward in the management of patients with RVO because the disease is difficult to treat with few available options."

Lucentis was developed by Genentech and Novartis. Genentech has the commercial rights to Lucentis in the US. Novartis has exclusive rights in the rest of the world.

Novartis also announced successful results of a trial involving cancer drug Glivec (imatinib). The treatment showed significant overall survival benefit for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours GIST who took the drug for three years post-surgery when compared to one year.

The results show that at five years, 66 per cent of patients taking Glivec for three years remained free of cancer recurrence compared to 48 per cent who had received Glivec for only one year.

6th June 2011

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