Mid-stage data assessing Novartis’ eye drug RTH258 indicates that it could be an effective option for treating wet age-related macular degeneration, with the added bonus of less frequent dosing than Regeneron/Bayer’s Eylea (aflibercept).

The swiss drug has released Phase II data showing that its experimental drug - a novel, single-chain antibody fragment formerly known as ESBA1008 - hit targets in demonstrating “promising visual acuity gains” that were non-inferior to Eylea, “with numerically greater reduction and rapid improvement in abnormal retinal fluid”.

Patients treated every three months with RTH258 also experienced a prolonged duration-of-action, potentially leading to a reduced treatment burden, Novartis said. Elyea is normally administered every four weeks.

Novartis eye unit Alcon is now running a Phase III study pitting the efficacy and safety of RTH258 against Eylea in wet AMD patients, which is expected to enroll around 1,700 patients in more than 50 countries worldwide.