New dry AMD drug treatment approved in US

As the most prevalent long-term eye disease in the UK, dry AMD currently has no cure. However, there’s new hope for those living with the condition after a new drug treatment is approved in the US.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) estimates that more than four million people are currently living with signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in the UK.

Dry AMD is one variation of this condition, which is where the macular, a group of retinal cells at the back of the eye, starts to degenerate. Currently, those living with dry AMD have no treatment options available to them.

However, the approval of a new drug, Syfovre, for use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides hope that a treatment for UK-based patients is getting closer.

As explained by the CEO and Co-founder of the business that produced the drug, Apellis Pharmaceuticals, “Today marks an extraordinary milestone for patients, the retina community, and Apellis. With its increasing effects over time and flexible dosing, we believe that SYFOVRE will make a meaningful difference in the lives of people with GA (geographic atrophy).

“GA is a complex disease that the field has spent decades trying to address, so we are humbled and proud to bring forward the first-ever treatment. Thank you to all who helped make this moment a reality.”

What is Syfovre?

Syfovre is otherwise known as pegcetacopla and has been developed by Apellis Pharmaceuticals. It was approved by the FDA on 21st February 2023 after being found to help slow the progression of dry AMD in clinical trials.

During these trials, it was administered as an injection into the eye at intervals of between 25 and 60 days.

How can Syfovre benefit people with dry AMD?

During the clinical trials, Syfore was shown to help slow down the progression of dry AMD, even in advanced cases. However, although the deterioration of retinal cells was slowed, patients in the trial didn’t see an improvement in their symptoms. Some also had a slightly higher risk of developing wet AMD compared to the placebo group.

However, more new drug applications have been submitted for review to the FDA, meaning greater options for dry AMD treatments may be available in the near future.

Geraldine Hoad, research manager at the Macular Society, said: “This development in the US is a huge milestone for patients living with dry AMD, who up to this point have not had any treatment available for their condition.

“However, it remains to be seen how much of a benefit this treatment could be for patients overall.

“We hope to have a clearer picture over the coming months and more hope to offer patients diagnosed with this devastating condition.”

Is Syfovre available in the UK?

As yet, Syfovre has only been approved for use in the US. However, depending on the results of further trials and patient usage, it may yet be considered for approval as a dry AMD treatment in the UK.

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