INDIA—Roche Pharma India, a subsidiary of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, has launched Vabysmo (faricimab), a much-anticipated blockbuster treatment in India.

A research by Judy E. Kim’s titled “Exploring neovascular age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema and advances in treatment,” indicate that retinal and choroidal vascular illnesses are the major causes of blindness among people in rich nations around the world.

For over 15 years, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor intravitreal injectable therapy has been the standard of care treatment; nevertheless, poor adherence and a high treatment burden have resulted in unsatisfactory visual outcomes in the real world when compared to clinical trial findings.

To reduce treatment burden, new medications are emerging that widen therapeutic targets and use unique delivery systems with longer durability.

Roche’s newly launched drug will be used to treat neovascular or “wet” age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME), which are the two primary causes of visual loss worldwide.

Roche’s Vabysmo pricing information in India are scarce, as the corporation insists on a tiered pricing mechanism depending on Indian economic standing, which makes the drug far less expensive than in industrialized countries.

Roche also stated that it is working closely with the national and state governments, as well as insurance providers, to help patients gain access to Vabysmo treatment.

The Economic Times estimates that the annual cost of Vabysmo treatment ranges between 2-4 lakh (US$2,412–4,825), depending on the patient’s condition and dose frequency.

Following these launch, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has recommended intravitreal injections as part of insurance coverage, making Vabysmo eligible for the therapy.

Vabysmo was launched in January 2022 and generated global sales of around $2.69 billion in 2023, exceeding Roche’s sales target.

Vabysmo, a bi-specific monoclonal antibody with a dual-pathway mechanism of action, neutralizes angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) and vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), restoring vascular stability in patients with neovascular or “wet” age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME).

Vabysmo offers superior treatment durability, with patients requiring ocular injections at intervals of up to once every four months while attaining equivalent vision and structural benefits.

Speaking during the launch, V. Simpson Emmanuel, CEO and MD of Roche Pharma India, noted that this launch of Vabysmo marks its foray into the ophthalmology arena in India, emphasizing Roche’s commitment to bringing the best-in-class technologies to the country.

He went on to say that because Vabysmo requires fewer eye injections over time while still improving and maintaining vision and anatomy, it provides a more convenient and effective treatment regimen for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers.

More than 300 million patients worldwide suffer from retinal vision loss, including 11 million in India, where the prevalence of nAMD and DME is around 4 million.

Since its approval by the US FDA in January 2022, Vabysmo has been available in over 90 countries, with over 2 million doses administered so far.

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