Novartis reports positive topline results from second Phase III trial of Beovu® in patients with diabetic macular edema

Dec 15, 2020
  • In Phase III KESTREL study, Beovu (brolucizumab 6 mg) achieved its primary endpoint of non-inferiority to aflibercept 2 mg in change in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) at year one (week 52)1

  • In a secondary endpoint, more than half of Beovu patients in the 6 mg arm were maintained on a three-month dosing interval through year one, following the loading phase1

  • Significant improvement with Beovu 6 mg in change of central subfield thickness (CST) from baseline over the period of week 40 through week 52 was observed1

  • Beovu demonstrated an overall well-tolerated safety profile1

  • Novartis intends to submit the data from KESTREL, together with the data from the pivotal Phase III KITE2 study in DME, to health authorities in H1 2021

Basel, December 15, 2020 — Novartis today announced positive findings from the first interpretable results of the Phase III KESTREL study, assessing the efficacy and safety of Beovu® (brolucizumab) 3 mg and 6 mg in diabetic macular edema (DME). Following KITE*, KESTREL is the second pivotal Phase III study of Beovu in DME. The trial met its primary endpoint of non-inferiority in change in best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) from baseline of Beovu 6 mg to aflibercept 2 mg at year one. The trial also met its key secondary endpoint of non-inferiority in average change in BCVA of Beovu 6 mg to aflibercept 2 mg over week 40 through week 521. (Beovu 6 mg is the marketed dose for wet AMD.)

More than half of patients in the Beovu 6 mg arm were maintained on a three-month dosing interval through year one, following the loading phase1. Patients treated with Beovu 6 mg experienced significant improvement in change of central subfield thickness (CST) from baseline over the period of week 40 through week 521. As non-inferiority in change in BCVA of brolucizumab 3 mg was not demonstrated in KESTREL, no confirmatory testing of superiority on anatomical outcomes was performed. Further analyses on anatomical outcomes from KESTREL are ongoing.

“These results demonstrate that Beovu has the potential, if approved, to offer DME patients better disease management,” said Dirk Sauer, Global Head Development, Novartis Pharma Ophthalmology. “Based on these data and the strong results we saw earlier this year from the KITE clinical study, we look forward to working with regulatory authorities to bring Beovu to DME patients.”

In KESTREL, Beovu demonstrated an overall well-tolerated safety profile1.

Novartis announced positive topline results from another pivotal phase III study, KITE, in September 2020. The results from KESTREL support the positive results seen in KITE, reinforcing Beovu as a potential new treatment option for DME patients.

The data from KITE and KESTREL will be submitted to upcoming medical meetings and for peer-review publication. Novartis intends to submit the data from both KITE and KESTREL to health authorities in H1 2021 and looks forward to working with regulators worldwide to make Beovu available to DME patients in need.

About Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic macular edema (DME) is the leading cause of blindness in young adults in developed countries, including 12% of people with type 1 diabetes and 28% of those with type 2 diabetes3.

Consistently high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage small blood vessels in the eye, causing them to leak fluid4. The resulting accumulation of fluid (known as edema) in the macula can lead to vision loss5. The macula is the area of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision5.

Early symptoms of DME include blurry or wavy central vision and distorted color perception, although the disease can also progress without symptoms at early stages4,5.

About Beovu (brolucizumab)
Beovu (brolucizumab, also known as RTH258) is approved in more than 50 countries, including in the US6, EU7, UK7, Japan8, Canada9 and Australia10, for the treatment of wet AMD. Additional trials are currently ongoing which study the effects of brolucizumab in patients with AMD, diabetic macular edema, retinal vein occlusion and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Brolucizumab is the most clinically advanced humanized single-chain antibody fragment (scFv)11-13. Single-chain antibody fragments are highly sought after in drug development due to their small size, enhanced tissue penetration, rapid clearance from systemic circulation and drug delivery characteristics13-15.

The proprietary innovative structure results in a small molecule (26 kDa) with potent inhibition of, and high affinity to, all VEGF-A isoforms14. Beovu is engineered to deliver the highest concentration of drug, providing more active binding agents11-13. In preclinical studies, Beovu inhibited activation of VEGF receptors through prevention of the ligand-receptor interaction14-16. Increased signaling through the VEGF pathway is associated with pathologic ocular angiogenesis and retinal edema17. Inhibition of the VEGF pathway has been shown to inhibit the growth of neovascular lesions and suppress endothelial cell proliferation and vascular permeability17.

*Kite Pharma, Inc. is neither a sponsor nor associated with Novartis’ KITE trial.

Disclaimer
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements can generally be identified by words such as “potential,” “can,” “will,” “plan,” “may,” “could,” “would,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “seek,” “look forward,” “believe,” “committed,” “investigational,” “pipeline,” “launch,” or similar terms, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential marketing approvals, new indications or labeling for the investigational or approved products described in this press release, or regarding potential future revenues from such products. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on our current beliefs and expectations regarding future events, and are subject to significant known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. There can be no guarantee that the investigational or approved products described in this press release will be submitted or approved for sale or for any additional indications or labeling in any market, or at any particular time. Nor can there be any guarantee that such products will be commercially successful in the future. In particular, our expectations regarding such products could be affected by, among other things, the uncertainties inherent in research and development, including clinical trial results and additional analysis of existing clinical data; regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; global trends toward health care cost containment, including government, payor and general public pricing and reimbursement pressures and requirements for increased pricing transparency; our ability to obtain or maintain proprietary intellectual property protection; the particular prescribing preferences of physicians and patients; general political, economic and business conditions, including the effects of and efforts to mitigate pandemic diseases such as COVID-19; safety, quality, data integrity or manufacturing issues; potential or actual data security and data privacy breaches, or disruptions of our information technology systems, and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG’s current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach nearly 800 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 110,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Find out more at https://www.novartis.com.

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References

  1. Novartis data on file. December 2020.
  2. ClinicalTrials.gov. Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Brolucizumab vs. Aflibercept in Patients With Visual Impairment Due to Diabetic Macular Edema (KITE). https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03481660. Accessed December 2020.
  3. Romero-Aroca P. Managing diabetic macular edema: The leading cause of diabetes blindness. World J Diabetes. 2011;2(6):98-104. doi:10.4239/wjd.v2.i6.98.
  4. National Eye Institute. Diabetic Retinopathy. Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/diabetic-retinopathy. Accessed December 2020.
  5. National Eye Institute. Macular Edema. Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/macular-edema#section-id-1556. Accessed December 2020.
  6. Beovu [US prescribing information] East Hanover, NJ. Novartis: 2019
  7. Beovu [summary of product characteristics] Basel, Switzerland. Novartis: 2020.
  8. Pharma Japan. National Health Insurance Pricing. Available at: https://pj.jiho.jp/sites/default/files/pj/document/2020/05/New%20Drugs%20to%20Be%20Added%20to%20NHI%20Price%20List%20on%20May%2020_1.pdf. Accessed December 2020.
  9. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. CADTH Canadian Drug Expert Committee Recommendation. Available at: https://cadth.ca/sites/default/files/cdr/complete/SR0632%20Beovu%20-%20CDEC%20Final%20Recommendation%20%E2%80%93%20May%2025%2C%202020_for%20posting.pdf. Accessed December 2020.
  10. Beovu [prescription medicine decision summary] Australia. Novartis: 2020.
  11. Dugel P, Koh A, Ogura Y, et al; HAWK and HARRIER Study Investigators. HAWK and HARRIER: Phase 3, multicenter, randomized, double-masked trials of brolucizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmology. 2020;127(1):72-84
  12. Dugel PU, Singh RP, Koh A, et al. HAWK and HARRIER: 96-Week outcomes from the phase 3 trials of brolucizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration [published online ahead of print]. Ophthalmology. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.06.028.
  13. Nimz EL, et al. Intraocular and systemic pharmacokinetics of brolucizumab (RTH258) in nonhuman primates. The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting. 2016. Abstract 4996
  14. Escher D, et al. Single-chain antibody fragments in ophthalmology. Oral presentation at EURETINA congress. 2015. Abstract.
  15. Gaudreault J, et al. Preclinical pharmacology and safety of ESBA1008, a single-chain antibody fragment, investigated as potential treatment for age related macular degeneration. ARVO Annual Meeting abstract. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2012;53:3025. http://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2354604 (link is external). Accessed February 2020
  16. Tietz J, et al. Affinity and Potency of RTH258 (ESBA1008), a Novel Inhibitor of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A for the Treatment of Retinal Disorders. IOVS. 2015; 56(7):1501.
  17. Kim R. Introduction, mechanism of action and rationale for anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs in age-related macular degeneration. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2007;55(6):413-415.

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