New wave of drugs poised to shake up glaucoma treatment

Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:00am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Toni Clarke

WASHINGTON Feb 10 (Reuters) - For the first time in 20 years, patients suffering from the eye disease glaucoma may soon have new treatments as several young companies look to shake up the $5.6 billion global market

There is no cure for glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve and is expected to affect more than 4 million Americans by 2030, up from 2.7 million today. But treatments help patients manage the disease and may prevent the onset of blindness.

The new treatments promise to improve outcomes and reduce side-effects associated with current medicines, exploiting a long dearth of innovative new products for the disease. No new class of medicine has been introduced since Pfizer Inc's N> Xalatan, known generically as latanoprost, in 1996.

The newcomers aim to disrupt market-leaders Alcon, a division of Novartis AG, Allergan Inc, Pfizer and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.

Leading the pack is Aerie Pharmaceuticals Inc, which plans to launch its novel eye-drop Rhopressa in 2017 and another treatment, Roclatan, a year later. The company sold 6.7 million shares for $10 each in its 2013 market debut. They now top $26.

Following Aerie is Inotek Pharmaceuticals, whose trabodenoson eye-drop is entering late-stage trials expected to be completed by 2017. Inotek has announced plans to sell 4.6 million shares at between $13 and $15 each in an IPO expected soon.

Drugs to combat glaucoma, the second-leading cause of blindness in the world, work by reducing pressure inside the eye. Aerie and Inotek's drugs are the first to target the trabecular network, the main drain through which fluid flows out of the eye, though they do so in different ways.

Taking a different approach is Ocular Therapeutix Inc, which is developing a tiny device that can be inserted into the eye to deliver regular medication. The product is in mid-stage clinical trials. Ocular's shares have risen to more than $30 from their IPO price of $13 last year.   Continued...