ThromboGenics could soon be erecting the 'for sale' sign after disappointing US sales of its eye drug Jetrea forced the Belgian firm to start a strategic review.

The company has hired Morgan Stanley to help with the review process as it explores options to realise the potential of Jetrea (ocriplasmin), the only drug approved on both sides of the Atlantic for symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion, an age-related progressive, sight-threatening condition. The treatment is licensed to Novartis in Europe but ThromboGenics launched it on its own in the USA.

However, that strategy has not worked and "the high level of awareness of Jetrea amongst the retina community in the USA at the time of launch has not yet delivered the sales volume that the company had anticipated". In 2013, just 7,000 patients were treated in that key market.

ThromboGenics said it "continues to believe that, despite the commercial challenges it has encountered to-date in the US, Jetrea will find its place as a new standard of care for the earlier treatment of symptomatic VMA". Chief executive Patrik De Haes added that "we are starting the strategic exercise with an open mind" and a sale seems the most likely option.

The most likely buyer would appear to be Novartis as it would no longer have to pay royalties or other milestones on Jetrea and has the necessary marketing muscle to realise its potential in the USA. Investors seem happy about the prospects of a sale and ThromboGenics shares ended the day at 22.40 euros, up 19.4%.