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    Shire committed to ophthalmic space as dry eye drug emerges on FDA horizon

    Editor’s Note: Robert Dempsey, vice president and business unit head at Shire Pharmaceutical’s Ophthalmics Business Unit, recently talked with Ophthalmology Times Group Content Director Mark L. Dlugoss about Shire’s entry into the eye care market. Among the topics discussed are Shire’s attraction to the market, Lifitegrast­–its potential dry eye drug, and other potential ophthalmic compounds.

    Update: Shire's FDA-approved drug ends dry eye treatment drought

    OPHTHALMOLOGY TIMES: Robert, what is Shire Pharmaceutical’s major focus as a pharmaceutical company?

    ROBERT DEMPSEY: Shire is committed to the eye space and is dedicated to specialty pharmaceuticals. Shire is already in the gastrointestinal, internal medicine, and neuroscience spaces. It is committed to working on rare diseases, and now with the emerging Ophthalmic Business Unit, we are excited to focus on the specialty (and) play along with the focus on rare diseases.

    OPHTHALMOLOGY TIMES: What attracted Shire to enter the eye care market?

    DEMPSEY: There is a significant unmet need across various ophthalmic diseases. We feel that our focus on research and development is a perfect synergy for this space.

    OPHTHALMOLOGY TIMES: What initiated Shire’s entry into this space?

    DEMPSEY: It began with our acquisition of SARcode Bioscience in 2013. SARcode had a late-stage program in development for dry eye disease, Lifitegrast.

    Since then, we have made two more acquisitions–Premacure AB, to gain access to a program for the prevention of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and BioChem Pharma, which is developing a program for autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa.

    We clearly are making a major commitment to the ophthalmic space and intend to be a player for years to come.

    OPHTHALMOLOGY TIMES: Where does Shire see the biggest growth areas in ophthalmology?

    DEMPSEY: There is a tremendous opportunity for innovation to address unmet needs, such as dry eye disease, posterior segment disease, and more. The venture capital community is investing in many mid- and early-stage companies that have really “cool” technology, and we are very interested in partnering and collaborating with these organizations.

    What has Shire accomplished thus far...?

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