Novartis' new Eylea challenger Beovu has docs excited: exec

Beovu drug box
Novartis won approval for wet AMD drug Beovu earlier this month. (Novartis)

Novartis is only weeks into its launch for Beovu to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, but as one exec tells it, doctors are already excited to give the new medicine a try.

The company recently spoke with retina specialists at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in San Francisco and came away positive about the drug’s prospects going forward, Novartis' new pharmaceuticals president Marie-France Tschudin told FiercePharma.

Physicians make their treatment decisions based on “drying ability, dosing interval, safety and cost,” and on those factors, Tschudin said Beovu can deliver. Tschudin has been Novartis' pharma head since June, replacing Paul Hudson, who's now Sanofi's CEO.

Novartis won approval for Beovu earlier this month, but quickly after the nod, analysts highlighted concerns about the label. Specifically, they pointed out a higher rate of intraocular inflammation for the new med compared with Regeneron’s market-leading Eylea, plus a lack of specificity on recommended dosing schedules. 

RELATED: Novartis takes on Regeneron, Roche blockbusters with Beovu approval  

For its part, Novartis is “pleased” with the label, Tschudin said. Retinal dryness is the top factor physicians consider when making treatment decisions, Tschudin said, and on that metric, Beovu topped Eylea in clinical testing. Patients will also benefit from 8-12-week flexible dosing options for Novartis’ new drug, she added. 

In the U.S., Beovu will go up against Eylea and Roche’s Lucentis. Eylea generated $4 billion in the U.S. last year, while Lucentis pulled in $1.67 billion. Novartis plans to launch its new drug in Europe next year. 

At first, the company expects the majority of patients on the med to be switches from other treatments, but over time, Novartis expects a gradual increase in new patients.