Opko Health Initiates Phase 3 Trial of Bevasiranib for the Treatment of AMD
Wednesday July 11, 8:00 am ET
-Trial Designed to Compare Efficacy of Bevasiranib Administered Every 8 Weeks or 12 Weeks with Lucentis(R) Administered Every 4 Weeks-
-Represents First-Ever Phase 3 Pivotal Trial of an RNAi Therapeutic-
MIAMI, July 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Opko Health Inc. (Amex: OPK - News) today announced the initiation of the Phase 3 COBALT (Combining Bevasiranib And Lucentis Therapy) clinical trial of bevasiranib for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD.) The multi-national COBALT study is currently open and enrolling patients. The trial will include more than 330 wet AMD patients and will assess whether bevasiranib administered every 8 or 12 weeks is safe and has equivalent efficacy in preventing vision loss as Genentech's Lucentis® administered every four weeks.
Bevasiranib is a first-in-class small interfering RNA (siRNA) drug designed to silence the genes that produce vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), believed to be largely responsible for the vision loss of wet AMD. Bevasiranib is the first therapy based on the Nobel Prize-winning RNA interference (RNAi) technology to advance to Phase 3 clinical trials.
"This first-ever Phase 3 trial of an agent based on RNAi technology is an important milestone in this new field. We are proud of the ability demonstrated by our clinical group to have successfully moved this innovative compound through development rapidly and cost effectively," said Philip Frost, M.D., Chairman and CEO of Opko Health. "Currently patients with wet AMD undergo intravitreal injections every four weeks to achieve the vision- preserving benefits of Lucentis, so the potential ability of bevasiranib to achieve similar results while requiring less frequent injections would be an important benefit for these patients who often have limited mobility."
"Bevasiranib's demonstrated safety profile, its ability to inhibit the growth of the retinal lesions associated with wet AMD and its potential for prolonged duration are a promising foundation for this pivotal trial," said Lawrence Singerman M.D., founder and Executive Secretary of the Macula Society, Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Case University and a Principal Investigator for the Phase 3 study. "Bevasiranib's potential to serve as a long-term maintenance therapy for wet AMD could provide important benefits to patients, and I look forward to helping to assess its utility in this groundbreaking study."
"We are very pleased at the enthusiastic reception the COBALT trial has received from retinal centers around the globe," said Denis O'Shaughnessy, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Clinical Development at Opko. "Retinal physicians are keenly aware of the burden that frequent drug injections places on elderly patients and their families, and they are eager to help test an innovative new approach that has the potential to significantly reduce that burden while preserving patients' vision."
About Wet AMD
Wet age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the developed world and its incidence is growing rapidly. Advanced age is the main risk factor for wet AMD, and it is expected to become an increasingly common condition as the population grows older. An estimated 1.65 million Americans have wet AMD today and an estimated 11 million people worldwide will have AMD by 2013. Until recently, treatments for wet AMD were of limited efficacy. In the search for more effective treatments, researchers targeted VEGF, shown to be a key cause of the excess growth and leakiness of ocular blood vessels that result in loss of vision in these patients. Current VEGF antagonists, such as Lucentis, slow this vision loss, but require injections into the eye every four weeks, a particular issue for elderly patients who often have limited mobility.
Opko Health, Inc. Announces Early Termination of Hart-Scott-Rodino Waiting Period for Proposed Purchase of Shares by Dr. Phillip Frost
Thursday July 12, 8:00 am ET
MIAMI July 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Opko Health Inc. (Amex: OPK - News) today announced that that the U.S. Department of Justice has granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 in connection with the potential acquisition of additional shares of Opko Health common stock by Dr. Phillip Frost, CEO and Chairman of Opko. Dr. Frost has requested clearance to purchase additional shares of Opko Health common stock, which this action by the Justice Department now makes feasible.