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    Glaucoma, dry eye drugs center of pharmaceutical opportunities



    Dry eye got a new treatment class with the approval of lifitegrast (Xiidra) in 2016, lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1, of LFA1 antagonists. Lifitegrast is still the first and only member of the class.

    “There is significant unmet needs in dry eye, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and other ocular diseases associated with aging,” said Robert J. Dempsey, MBA, vice president and U.S. franchise head, ophthalmics. “There are only a small number of companies in this space and none of them bring Shire’s commitment to finding solutions in rare diseases and specialty areas.”

    Like any drug, lifitegrast has side effects. The most common adverse events are dysguesia, slight burning or stinging upon installation or blurred vision. Early and clear communication with patients is the key to managing side effects.

    “When physicians have these discussions with patients upfront, these significant adverse events seem to be well-tolerated by patients,” Dempsey said. “To set patients up for success, we highly recommend having the discussions in advance and avoiding surprises.”

    Look for additional new products in near areas of the eye. Shire, which built its experience in biotech agents, is taking a biotech approach to meeting unmet needs in both the anterior and poster segments.

    “We have a high level of commitment from our CEO and board of directors to become a major player in the ophthalmic space,” Dempsey said. “Our core focus is the new chemical entities that will address those unmet needs.”

    Fred Gebhart
    The author is a correspondent for Urology Times, a sister publication.

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