European Commission approves Novartis’ Beovu for people living with diabetic macular edema

The European Commission (EC) has approved Novartis’ Beovu® (brolucizumab) 6 mg for the treatment of visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema (DME).

The approval in DME represents the second indication for Beovu granted by the EC, which was first approved for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration in 2020. The EC decision applies to all 27 European Union (EU) member states as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The EC approval was based on year one data from the Phase III, randomized, double-masked KESTREL and KITE studies, which met their primary endpoint of non-inferiority in change in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) from baseline versus aflibercept at year one.

In both trials, following the loading phase, over half of patients (55.1% in KESTREL and 50.3% in KITE) in the Beovu 6 mg arm remained on a 12-week dosing interval through year one. Aflibercept dosing was aligned to the approved EU label in year one of treatment. In aggregate, a numerically lower proportion of patient eyes treated with Beovu had intraretinal fluid, subretinal fluid or both at week 52 versus eyes treated with aflibercept (in KESTREL 60.3% in Beovu arm versus 73.3% in aflibercept arm; in KITE 54.2% versus 72.9%, respectively; testing for statistical significance was not performed).

Per the approved prescribing information, following the loading phase of five doses injected six weeks apart, physicians may individualize treatment for DME patients based on their disease activity, as assessed by vision and fluid-related parameters. In patients without disease activity, physicians should consider 12-week intervals between Beovu treatments; in patients with disease activity, physicians should consider eight-week intervals between treatments.

“This approval marks a significant milestone for DME patients, many of whom are of working age and struggle with adherence due to the need to manage multiple comorbidities related to diabetes,” said Jill Hopkins, SVP and Global Development Unit Head, Ophthalmology, Novartis Pharmaceuticals. “KESTREL and KITE were the first pivotal trials to assess an anti-VEGF on six-week dosing intervals in the loading phase, suggesting Beovu may offer fewer injections from the start of treatment through year one. The EC approval of Beovu in DME may thus help address unmet needs.”

The most common ocular and non-ocular adverse events (≥5%) at year one in KESTREL and KITE were conjunctival hemorrhage, nasopharyngitis and hypertension. Intraocular inflammation (IOI) rates in KESTREL were 4.7% for brolucizumab 3 mg (including 1.6% retinal vasculitis), 3.7% for Beovu 6 mg (including 0.5% retinal vasculitis), and 0.5% for aflibercept 2 mg. IOI rates in KITE were equivalent (1.7%) between the Beovu 6 mg and aflibercept 2 mg arms with no retinal vasculitis reported. Retinal vascular occlusion was reported in KESTREL for brolucizumab 3 mg (1.1%) and 6 mg (0.5%), and in KITE for brolucizumab and aflibercept (0.6% each).

The majority of these events were manageable and resolved with routine clinical care. In KESTREL, the percentage of patients who experienced ≥15 letter loss from baseline at year one was 1.6% for brolucizumab 3 mg, 0% for Beovu 6 mg and 0.5% for aflibercept. In KITE, the percentage of patients who experienced ≥15 letter loss from baseline at year one was 1.1% for Beovu 6 mg and 1.7% for aflibercept. Brolucizumab 6 mg is the commercialized dose of Beovu.

Regulatory applications for Beovu in DME are under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA). Discussions with additional health authorities regarding Beovu are ongoing.

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