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Eyetech Jumps on FDA OK

Genentech (DNA) also is developing a VEGF-type drug for wet AMD. The drug, called Lucentis, is in late-stage clinical testing and must be injected into the eye every four weeks. Genentech is collaborating with Novartis.

A company working on a different type of wet AMD drug is Alcon (ACL), which submitted its application to the FDA on Thursday. Alcon's drug is called Retaane.

The Swiss drug and device company announced in mid-October that a key test of Retaane showed no difference from the QLT-Novartis photodynamic therapy. At the time, Alcon vowed it would seek FDA approval by year-end, saying there were "controllable factors" in the clinical trial that "negatively impacted the overall results" of its study.

Retaane is a steroid that fights the development of new, unwanted blood vessels. Retaane is administered every six months. Instead of being injected into the eyeball, Retaane is delivered via a tube directly in contact with the outer surface of the sclera, the fibrous outer envelope that covers much of the eyeball. Alcon is hoping this approach will give Retaane a marketing edge over Eyetech's drug.

Other companies working on wet AMD treatments include Genaera (GENR), Iridex (IRIX) and Miravant Medical Technologies (MRVT).

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