Novartis announces positive CHMP opinion for one-time gene therapy Luxturna to treat children and adults with rare inherited retinal disease

  • If approved in expected timeframe, Luxturna* (voretigene neparvovec) will be first and only gene therapy available in EU to treat a rare inherited retinal disease
  • Children and adults living with inherited retinal disease caused by RPE65 gene mutations nearly all progress to complete blindness
  • 93% of patients treated with Luxturna in the Phase 3 clinical trial had improved vision at 1 year

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Basel, September 21, 2018 - Novartis today announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopted a positive opinion for the approval of voretigene neparvovec, a one-time gene therapy for the treatment of patients with vision loss due to a genetic mutation in both copies of the RPE65 gene. Luxturna was developed and is marketed in the US by Spark Therapeutics. If approved, voretigene neparvovec will be commercialized by Novartis in markets outside the U.S.

Inherited retinal diseases are a group of rare conditions that can lead to total blindness, often disproportionally affecting children and young adults. 50% of people with mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene will be legally blind by the time they’re 16 years old. Voretigene neparvovec provides a working copy of the RPE65 gene to act in place of the mutated RPE65 gene. This working gene has the potential to restore vision and improve sight. Outside of the US, there are currently no approved pharmacologic treatment options for vision loss caused by RPE65 mutations.

"Inherited retinal diseases are a heterogenous group of degenerative conditions that represent the major cause of blindness in childhood and active working life. This opinion represents a hopeful milestone for current and future patients who may ultimately benefit from gene therapy," said Christina Fasser, president of Retina International, an umbrella organization of more than 43 patient organizations worldwide promoting research to find treatments for inherited retinal degenerative diseases.

"Today’s positive CHMP opinion represents a significant step in our journey toward advancing potentially life-changing cell and gene therapies in ophthalmology," said Paul Hudson, CEO, Novartis Pharmaceuticals. "We look forward to working with Spark Therapeutics and the EMA to establish access and reimagine care for people in the EU who face the threat of total blindness from this inherited retinal disease."

The positive CHMP opinion is based on data from a Phase 1 clinical trial, its follow-up trial, and a Phase 3 trial that together enrolled 43 patients with inherited retinal disease caused by mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene. The Phase 3 trial was the first randomized, controlled Phase 3 gene therapy trial for an inherited disease.

A marketing authorization decision from the European Commission is anticipated within approximately two months of the positive CHMP opinion. If approved, the authorization will be valid in all 28 member states of the EU, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

About RPE65 mutation-associated inherited retinal disease
Inherited retinal diseases are a group of rare blinding conditions caused by more than 220 different genes, often disproportionally affecting children and young adults. Mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene affect approximately 1 in 200,000 people.

Mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene can lead to blindness. Early in the disease patients can suffer from night blindness (nyctalopia), loss of light sensitivity, loss of peripheral vision, loss of sharpness or clarity of vision, impaired dark adaptation and repetitive uncontrolled movements of the eye (nystagmus) . Patients with mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene may be diagnosed, for instance, with subtypes of either Leber congenital amaurosis or retinitis pigmentosa.

About the Novartis and Spark Therapeutics licensing and supply agreement
In January 2018, Spark Therapeutics entered into a licensing and supply agreement with Novartis covering development, registration and commercialization rights to Luxturna in markets outside the US. Commercialization rights in the EU/EEA will be transferred to Novartis upon successful completion of EU registration and issuance of marketing authorization. Novartis already has exclusive rights to pursue development, registration and commercialization in all other countries outside the US, and Spark Therapeutics would supply the gene therapy to Novartis.