Regeneron’s eye jab Eylea (aflibercept) has picked up its fourth vision-related US approval, this time as a treatment for diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetic macular oedema.

DR is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in adults in the US. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects more than 29 million people in the country, of which more than 30% of adult patient have some form of DR. 

Clinical trials with Eylea - a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor designed to block the growth of new blood vessels and decrease vascular permeability - show that the treatment induced significant improvement in the severity of the condition.

Eylea will compete for market share with Novartis’ Lucentis (ranibizumab), which was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration for DR in February. However, the fact that Regeneron’s drug is dosed only every two months (after five initial monthly injections) opposed to Lucentis’ monthly regimen could give it a competitive edge.