Vabysmo, Roche’s Top Eye Medicine, Crosses Blockbuster Threshold Ahead of Competitors

Roche’s Vabysmo Hits Blockbuster Status Amid FDA Threat

According to Roche’s pharma chief, Teresa Graham, their eye drug Vabysmo is currently experiencing significant momentum. Since its FDA approval in January 2022, Vabysmo has already surpassed one billion dollars in sales, generating 957 million Swiss francs ($1.1 billion) in the first half of 2023.

Vabysmo’s success is partly attributed to its inroads in treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME), where it competes with Regeneron’s Eylea. Regeneron’s high-dose Eylea faced a rejection by the FDA due to manufacturing issues, creating an opportunity for Vabysmo.

The high-dose Eylea delay gives Roche “the opportunity to continue to make sure that as many retinal specialists as possible are getting experienced with Vabysmo,” Graham said during a separate call with investors. Some patients may be waiting for high-dose Eylea, but that’s not a major trend, she said.

A large portion of Vabysmo’s sales comes from patients who switched from Eylea, but around one-third of patients taking Vabysmo are entirely new to treatment. This significant increase in new patients reflects Vabysmo’s growing popularity.

While Vabysmo remains Roche’s top growth driver, another promising drug in their portfolio is the antibody-drug conjugate Polivy. Sales for Polivy have surged by 129% in the second quarter compared to the previous year, mainly due to FDA approval for first-line diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Polivy is now “the easy choice” for treating first-line DLBCL “because it’s their best chance for a cure,” Graham said.

“That’s a really great indication that people do see this as the next standard of care,” Graham said.

Roche’s portfolio of new medicines, including Vabysmo and Polivy, has expanded significantly since 2015, now constituting half of the company’s pharma sales.

Despite some challenges, including reduced sales of Actemra due to decreased COVID-related demand and the conclusion of COVID antibody Ronapreve sales, Roche’s pharma division still achieved 11 billion Swiss francs in sales for the second quarter.

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