PSivida Corp says experimental eye therapy meets study goal

(Reuters) - Drugmaker pSivida Corp said its lead experimental therapy prevented inflammation in the back of patients’ eyes in a late-stage study, pushing its shares up to their highest in 5 years.

The company’s shares were up 34 percent at $4.97 in Tuesday morning trade.

The drugmaker said only 18.4 percent of the patients given the treatment Medidur had the condition, posterior uveitis, return. More than three-fourth of the patients who were treated with the placebo had a recurrence of the eye inflammation.

Posterior uveitis is a condition that affects 175,000 people in the United States, making it a rare disease.

The market for treating various forms of uveitis is crowded with 18 treatments, branded and generic, being sold in the country.

While common treatments such as corticosteroids have been available for years, the rarity of posterior uveitis has lured AbbVie Inc to test the biggest selling biologic drug, Humira, as a treatment for the eye inflammation.

PSivida developed Medidur, an implant, which releases corticosteroid directly in the eye over a period of three years.

The company said 2.3 percent patients who were given Medidur in the 126-patient study had to be operated on to reduce pressure in the eye.

However, pSivida said the drug’s safety was better than Iluvien, another product it had developed to treat diabetic macular edema (DME), a sight-robbing condition.

PSivida licensed Iluvien to Alimera Sciences Inc in 2005 and earned $25 million last September when it was approved to treat DME.

Watertown, Massachusetts-based pSivida already sells Retisert with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc to treat uveitis in general.

The small drugmaker is also developing a mid-stage drug to treat glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, with Pfizer Inc.

PSivida plans to conduct a second late-stage study on Medidur. If the second study is successful, the drugmaker said it expects to file for marketing application in the first half of 2017.

Reporting by Vidya L Nathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta