Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. shares surged 6.6% in midday trade Tuesday after Novartis AG released positive data for two late-stage trials comparing its eye disease drug head-to-head with Regeneron's Eylea. The drug, RTH258, met the primary and key secondary endpoints in both phase 3 trials, Novartis said. The trials enrolled more than 1,800 patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration, which causes vision loss. More than half of patients were maintained when dosed with the drug every 12 weeks, which could provide a competitive advantage over Regeneron's Eylea, which is dosed every eight weeks, analysts said. Novartis said it has plans to file for approval next year. "Some of the risk of this event is likely to have been discounted into REGN's stock already," said Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges. That could explain the Regeneron stock surge, he said: "given the scarcity of such stocks, and opportunities, we see significant buyer interest around any meaningful decline in the stock." SunTrust analyst Yatin Suneja said "we believe the [Novartis] drug has the potential to reduce treatment burden; however, RTH258's safety profile will be key to uptake and would be watched closely when full data are presented at a medical meeting." But results were better than expected, Porges said, with "the proportion of the RTH258 q12w therapy patients at the upper end of expectations." Regeneron shares have surged 31.6% over the last three months, compared with a 5.5% rise in Novartis shares and a 3% rise in the S&P 500 .
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