Regeneron keeps keeping on with Eylea

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' ($REGN) rollout of its highly successful eye treatment, Eylea, continues unabated.

The company announced today that Japanese regulators have approved the treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) there. That comes a week after it got approval in the European Union for wet AMD. The approval also comes a week after the U.S. approved it for another use, to treat the thickening of the macula of the eye, Reuters points out. The U.S. gave Eylea wet AMD approval in November 2011.

The company says it estimates that there are about 700,000 patients in Japan who could be eligible to be treated with the drug, which can restore some sight in patients. Japan is seen as a promising market for drugmakers of late since regulatory reforms have speeded up new drug launches in a market notoriously slow at adopting treatments already in use elsewhere. The government's pricing policies have eased as well and the island nation's growing aging population is strengthening demand for drugs.

In fact, it was several weeks ago that Novartis ($NVS), whose blockbuster eye drug Lucentis is Eylea's main competitor, said it has data supporting a new indication for the drug and will take that with an application to Japan. The company said that new data found that an average of three Lucentis (ranibizumab) injections improved visual acuity in patients with myopic choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Novartis sells Lucentis outside the U.S. while Roche ($RHHBY) owns the drug there, where Eylea has been stealing away market share.

Lucentis and Eylea both have been shown to restore some sight to patients with AMD, a disease that can lead to blindness. Eylea, however, comes with a lower cost, and has been found to require fewer treatments--at least in the first year of use.

The drug has been so successful for Regeneron that in July, the company for the third time boosted its forecast of sales for the sight-restoring drug. It projected full-year U.S. Eylea sales will tally $700 million to $750 million. That is up 50% from the $500 million to $550 million projected just three months earlier, which was nearly double an earlier projection.

- here's the release
- get more from Reuters

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