ZURICH Novartis said its Alcon unit got a green light from the European Commission for Jetrea, a drug that treats an eye condition that can lead to blindness.
Jetrea is the first eye drug to treat vitreomacular traction (VMT) associated with macular hole that can cause progressive sight-threatening symptoms and irreversible vision loss, Novartis said in a statement on Monday.
Novartis has acquired the rights to sell Jetrea outside the United States from ThromboGenics NV. In October 2012, Jetrea was approved in the U.S. for the treatment of patients with symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (VMA).
Stuart Raetzman, Area President Europe, Middle East and Africa at Alcon, said the EU approval was a major breakthrough because it allowed eye care professionals to treat the disease early with a one-time injection instead of using surgery.
The condition is estimated to affect 250,000 to 300,000 people in Europe alone, Novartis said.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)