Eye on Five – September Edition

OIS - Eye on Five

Johnson & Johnson Moves to Buy AMO
The evolution of the ophthalmology sector continued with this month’s news that Johnson & Johnson Vision Care would pay $4.3 billion to acquire Abbott Medical Optics, the company’s ophthalmology surgery business. The deal – if closed – promises to bring a newly engaged and energized Johnson & Johnson into ophthalmology. The company’s Vision Care business leads the contact lens business, but its presence in ophthalmologists’ offices has been minimal. This deal clearly changes that. In a conversation with OIS Podcast, Ashley McEvoy, company group chairman, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and Diabetes Care Companies, lays out how the current AMO will fit into the future J&J, what leadership might look like, and where the company might be looking for additional innovation. 

CAPELLA Results: Eylea Alone Surpasses Combination
Top-line results from the Phase II CAPELLA study evaluating Regeneron’s Eylea (aflibercept) co-formulated with rinucumab failed to meet the primary endpoint of improvement in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) compared with Eylea alone in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Rinucumab is an anti-platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (anti-PDGFR-β) antibody. At 12 weeks, patients in both combination Eylea/rinucumab groups showed a 5.8-letter improvement in BCVA versus a 7.5-letter gain in those on Eylea monotherapy.

Allergan Acquires Gene Therapy Company
Allergan acquired substantially all of the assets of RetroSense Therapeutics LLC, a private biotechnology company developing gene therapies for retinitis pigmentosa and dry AMD for $60 million in cash up front. Allergan has also agreed to potential milestone payments related to RetroSense’s lead candidate, RST-001, a novel gene therapy for the potential treatment of retinitis pigmentosa.

Bayer Adds Silica Matrix to Ophthalmology Portfolio
Bayer is stepping up its position in ophthalmology by forming a collaboration with DelSiTech Ltd., a Finnish drug delivery technology and drug development company. The two have signed a licensing agreement for the worldwide application of the DelSiTech Silica Matrix drug delivery platform to a number of Bayer’s compounds in ophthalmology. The silica matrix is based on the principle that when silica gel comes in contact with body fluids, the matrix slowly dissolves and releases encapsulated agents.

Aerie Caps Off Whirlwind Month
Aerie Pharmaceuticals had a whirlwind month, first with submitting an NDA for Rhopressa, reporting positive results from the Phase III Mercury 1 trial for its Rhopressa/latanoprost combination agent Roclatan and second with raising $125 million in public offerings. For the month Aerie’s stock price almost doubled to around $40 a share.