Swiss drugmaker Roche on Thursday reported another quarter of strong growth for its new eye drug Vabysmo, building U.S. market share for a lower-frequency macular degeneration injection as rival Regeneron stumbled launching a competing version of its flagship product Eylea.
Roche recorded 1.6 billion Swiss francs, or $1.8 billion, in sales through the first nine months of the year, nearly six-fold growth over the same period last year after its January 2022 launch. U.S. market share grew from 15% in the first six months to 19% at the end of September, Roche said.
Quarterly sales of 656 million Swiss francs were around 13% higher than the consensus of Wall Street analysts’ forecasts, RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a note to clients.
That growth is coming at the expense of Regeneron’s Eylea, the New York biotechnology company’s top-selling product. In its original formulation, the drug is most effective when given by an eye injection every eight weeks for age-related macular degeneration. Vabysmo can be injected as infrequently as once every 16 weeks.
In August, Regeneron gained approval for a high-dose version of Eylea that can be injected once every eight to 16 weeks. But the OK came after a two-month delay caused by a manufacturing issue.
Roche’s strong sales numbers are a sign Regeneron will have a fight on its hands as the launch of the high-dose shot gets underway, Abrahams wrote.
“Strong Vabysmo [third quarter] sales may place pressure on Eylea near-term, though [it] also highlights market openness to switch to longer-acting branded [drugs], which could ultimately benefit EyleaHD,” he wrote.
The two companies have competed with rival injectable eye drugs for macular degeneration for more than a decade. Launched in 2011, Eylea took market share away from an older Roche drug called Lucentis, which was launched five years earlier and needed to be injected once every four weeks.