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Subspecialties Business and Innovation, Glaucoma, Retina, Retina, Retina, Cornea / Ocular Surface

Sustaining Innovation

At a Glance

  • In recent years, there have been major advances in the development of new  sustained-release ocular drug-delivery systems 
  • Only a small number have achieved both global regulatory approval and commercial success
  • Despite the challenges, significant market opportunities remain to enhance existing products or develop new technologies that offer improved treatment options for patients suffering from the major vision-impairing eye diseases
  • In addition to opportunities, there are also obstacles facing developers of ophthalmic drug delivery systems and devices.

Currently, more than 10 million people in the United States are affected by the four major posterior segment diseases that cause blindness – age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), diabetic macular edema (DME) and glaucoma (1) – and their incidence is only set to increase as the population ages. But current therapeutic options for these diseases may, at best, manage the condition through slowing further deterioration or halting disease progression. It’s why many are looking for new solutions.

Robust sustained-delivery of drugs is a beneficial option for both patients and physicians; long-term delivery of the drug directly to the back of the eye could enhance treatment compliance for patients who have long-term treatment regimens for these chronic diseases. Furthermore, long-term drug delivery could also help improve eyecare in developing countries, as well as address ethical dilemmas; in many developing countries (including China, India and Russia), practitioners often have one chance to address disease morphology because patients are often lost to follow-up. However, significant barriers exist when it comes to successfully developing and commercializing new sustained-release therapies in ophthalmology. Here, I explore the opportunities and obstacles facing developers of ophthalmic drug-delivery systems.

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About the Author

Michael O’Rourke

Michael O’Rourke is the Founder and CEO of Scotia Vision, LLC. He has over 30 years drug delivery experience across ophthalmology, periodontal and pulmonary markets in sales, marketing, product launch, strategy development and global commercialization.

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