Roche subsidiary Genentech has exercised its right to participate in the financial arrangements relating to Novartis ‘s rights in its deal with Ophthotech for Fovista (pegpleranib), designed to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

The option stems from a pre-existing deal between Roche and Novartis.

According to Ophthotech, its agreement with Novartis signed in May last year remains in effect. Currently, Ophthotech retains exclusive rights to Fovista in the US, while Novartis owns exclusive rights of the product outside the country.

During the course of collaboration, Ophthotech is also entitled to receive more than $1bn in upfront and milestone payments.

"It highlights the industry’s acknowledgement of the large commercial opportunity resulting from the significant unmet need in the large and expanding market for wet AMD."

Under the deal, Novartis is planning to develop and commercialise alternative delivery technologies such as a Fovista pre-filled syringe.

In October, Ophthotech completed patient recruitment in a Phase III clinical trial designed to evaluate the combination of Fovista and Roche’s Lucentis (ranibizumab) in wet AMD.

Top line data from this trial is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of next year.

Ophthotech CEO and chairman of the board David Guyer said: "We believe that this arrangement further validates Fovista’s novel technology, reflects the industry’s need for the next-generation therapeutic option for wet AMD, and also highlights the industry’s acknowledgement of the large commercial opportunity resulting from the significant unmet need in the large and expanding market for wet AMD.

"Our Fovista ex-US agreement with Novartis remains unchanged. We continue to be very impressed with the extensive resources and tremendous commitment that Novartis is putting into the Fovista programme.

"Additionally, we are excited about the recent completion of patient recruitment in two of the Phase III trials of Fovista."

Ophthotech is also developing Zimura, an inhibitor of complement factor C5, for the treatment of geographic atrophy, a form of dry AMD.

A third Phase III trial evaluating Fovista in combination with other anti-VEGF agents continues to enroll patients with recruitment on track.