Novartis' ophthalmic unit Alcon has acquired the non-US rights to ThromboGenics of Belgium's ocriplasmin for the treatment of symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion in a deal worth 375 million euros.

Under the terms of the agreement, ThromboGenics will pocket an upfront fee of 75 million euros, plus 90 million euros in potential near-term milestone payments. The Leuven-based firm said that additional milestones bring the potential total to 375 million euros, plus royalties "that are commensurate with a product that has successfully completed Phase III development and that has been filed for regulatory approval".

Ocriplasmin is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency as the first pharmacological treatment for VMA, including macular hole, a debilitating eye disease. The firms estimate that more than 300,000 patients in Europe alone could potentially benefit from this novel treatment.

ThromboGenics chief executive Patrik De Haes said his firm will now concentrate on "bringing ocriplasmin to the US market ourselves and are building the commercial and medical organisation needed to support the product’s anticipated launch". The company will resubmit the Biologic License Application for the drug by April.

Kevin Buehler, Alcon's head, said "the clinical results for ocriplasmin show improved visual function and that earlier intervention may limit the progression of the disease". He added that ocriplasmin is a strategic fit for the unit.