09 February 2023 | Thursday | News
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ROP is a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved EYLEA® (aflibercept) Injection to treat preterm infants with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Following this first pediatric approval, EYLEA is now indicated to treat five retinal conditions caused by ocular angiogenesis.
“Retinopathy of prematurity is a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. Until now, the only FDA-approved treatment in common use was laser photocoagulation, a complex and lengthy procedure that permanently ablates retina tissue and is stressful not only for infant patients but also the family navigating a delicate time after a preterm birth,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron, and a principal inventor of EYLEA. “For the first time, physicians will now have an FDA approved medication in EYLEA to treat this heartbreaking disease in these smallest of patients. We thank the investigators and the many families who participated in the clinical trials.”
Each year in the U.S., between 1,100 to 1,500 infants develop ROP that is severe enough to require medical treatment. This rare eye disease often impacts infants who are born before 31 weeks of pregnancy have been completed or who weigh less than 1,500 grams (3.3 lbs) pounds at birth. As retinal blood vessels are often only fully developed once an infant is full-term (~9 months of pregnancy), these infants are at risk of developing retinal blood vessels that are abnormal (retinal neovascularization) potentially leading to retinal detachment and irreversible vision loss. Mild cases of ROP may improve without treatment, but some cases require treatment to keep ROP from causing significant visual impairment and even blindness.
“With no existing FDA approved guidance for the treatment of retinopathy of prematurity with anti-VEGF therapies, there was a significant need for research to understand how best to treat the disease in a manner that puts patient safety first and preserves vision for a lifetime,” said Jeff Todd, Chief Executive Officer, Prevent Blindness. “Regeneron’s trials investigating EYLEA in retinopathy of prematurity have advanced our understanding of how to treat this disease and provided a needed evidence-based treatment option to potentially help preterm infants preserve their vision.”