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    A bullish view: Navigating beyond glaucoma company mistakes

    San Francisco—Companies specializing in glaucoma products can make billions of dollars, but only if they can find a path through a minefield of scientific, regulatory, and marketing hazards, according to Richard A. Lewis, MD.

    “The amount of money invested in ophthalmology continues to go up,” he said. 

    Dr. Lewis devoted most of his Drs. Henry and Frederick Sutro Memorial Lecture at the 2016 Glaucoma 360 New Horizons Forum to the pratfalls of glaucoma ventures he has witnessed during a 30-year career.

    A former director of glaucoma for the University of California, Davis, and past-president of the American Glaucoma Society, Dr. Lewis now works as a consultant to medical companies and he made a case for the value of his current occupation.

    “The role of the clinician-consultant will be very important going forward,” he said.

    Glaucoma 360 reaching new milestones in search of a cure

    To succeed in the glaucoma market, a company must not only develop a safe and effective product, it must also assemble a skillful team of leaders, obtain funding, clear regulatory barriers, gain authorization for the relevant procedures to be reimbursed, secure patents, and successful market its product.

    As one cautionary tale, Dr. Lewis described the trajectory of iScience, which pioneered techniques for canaloplasty.

    After incorporating in 1999, iScience executed its first procedures in the United States in 2002, and raised $37 million in venture capital in July 2008, he said. But then the company wasted valuable time and resources developing ultrasound techniques that proved to be of little clinical value, Dr. Lewis said.

    IScience ceased operations in 2012 and sold its assets to Ellex the following year.

    “The procedure is still being used,” Dr. Lewis said. “Unfortunately, the company no longer exists.”

    2016 Drs. Henry and Frederick Sutro Memorial Lecture

    Glaukos-a different scenio

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