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    Innovation in glaucoma thriving

    New drugs, devices, diagnostics ‘nicely’ fueling growth

    Innovation in glaucoma diagnosis and treatment is alive, well­–and profitable. That was the upbeat report from Emmett Cunningham, Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, ophthalmologist and partner with venture capital firm Clarus Ventures, LLC. The glaucoma pharmaceutical sector alone is set to grow from $4 billion in 2013 to $5 billion by 2018.Emmett Cunningham, Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, said the glaucoma pharmaceutical sector alone is set to grow from $4 billion in 2013 to $5 billion by 2018. (Photo by Stevan Nordstrom)

    “The glaucoma market is growing very nicely,” Dr. Cunningham said. “We are not seeing any slowing of innovation in glaucoma.”

    The biggest news for 2013 was the approval of Alcon Laboratories’ combination drug of brinzolamide and brimonidine. Simbrinza is the first fixed-dose, combination glaucoma agent without a beta-blocker to be approved for the U.S. market. The net IOP lowering achieved with Simbrinza at various time points suggests FDA flexibility regarding approval thresholds.

     “Alcon managed to lower the IOP hurdle without compromising safety, especially systemic safety,” he added.

    The drug pipeline is equally promising. Amakem Therapeutics presented early clinical results for AMA0076, a topical Rho Kinase inhibitor (ROCKi) with activity confined to the anterior chamber. Seven-day data in normotensive eyes showed, what Dr. Cunningham called, a “very nice” IOP-lowering effect that is greater than reductions usually seen in normotensive eyes. And, because activity is localized, there appeared to be less redness than has been seen with other ROCKi agents.

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