Regeneron Pharmaceuticals stock was on pace for its largest percentage increase since 2011 on Thursday after the pharmaceutical company announced promising results from late-stage clinical trials on its signature eye drug medication, Eylea.
Eylea, or aflibercept, is widely used to treat two types of eye disease related to blood vessel malfunction due to old age or diabetes. Current standard treatment involves injecting patients with 2 milligrams of the medication over the course of several months. Regeneron (ticker: REGN ) and partner Bayer AG ( BAYRY ) currently hold the patent to the medication, which is due to expire soon and is under pressure by rising competition from newcomers to the space.
But new results released on Thursday could shake up the treatment plan, and give Regeneron its edge back. The trials indicatde that Eylea worked well in battling the eye diseases at more concentrated levels of 8 milligrams. The trials showed that nearly 90% of patients with diabetic macular edema, and almost 80% of those with wet age-related macular degeneration, were able to maintain a 16-week dosing regimen, the company said.
“These data mark a new era, as the extended dosing intervals of aflibercept 8 mg significantly reduced the treatment burden for a large majority of patients compared to the more intensive injection frequency currently required,” said Dr. Christian Rommel, member of the executive committee of Bayer’s pharmaceutical division and head of research and development.
Meanwhile, the safety profile of the higher dose of the drug is comparable to the current dose of Eylea, Rommel added.
The results are an “important differentiator” for Regeneron and Bayer, setting it aside from competitor Vabysmo, wrote Evercore ISI analyst Josh Schimmer.
“We believe the data do likely support approvability and some degree of market conversion to high dose Eylea,” agreed RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams.
That said, the high dose likely won’t be a perfect enough solution to completely protect all the Eylea franchise long term, Abrahams added. Eylea accounted for $3.13 billion in sales in the first half of 2022 in the U.S.
Regeneron shares rose by 19.3% to $711.48 on Thursday, while Bayer’s U.S.-listed stock ticked up 0.3%.
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