Updated: TearScience wins $70M funding commitment for dry eye device

TearScience's LipiFlow device won FDA clearance in June 2011.--Courtesy of TearScience

TearScience will tap up to a whopping $70 million in new financing to ramp up commercial marketing efforts for its dry eye treatment device.

HealthCare Royalty Partners is the sole backer of the new debt financing round, according to the deal announcement, which can be drawn down over time. The investment firm, based in Stamford, CT, launched in 2007.

North Carolina-based TearScience won its new cash commitment more than two years after drawing in a sizeable $44.5 million Series C back in mid-2010, from Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, Investor Growth Capital, General Catalyst Partners, De Novo Ventures, Spray Ventures and Quaker Bioventures. TearScience plans to use its latest cash infusion to expand commercialization efforts for its LipiFlow device, which won FDA clearance in December 2011.

TearScience's target: A dry eye market that includes more than 23 million Americans, which it calculates offers a potential $10 billion market in North America alone. Many dry eye related drug treatments are already on the market, but TearScience's device approach could help it stand apart and grab a large chunk of sales over time.

TearScience's complete treatment includes LipiFlow, a thermal pulsation device indicated for evaporative dry eye that frees up blocked meibomian glands so they can produce lipids and restore a normal tear film to the eye, the company explains. The other component: The LipiView Ocular Surface Interferometer, which measures the absolute thickness of the lipid layer of a patient's eye tear film.

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect the FDA clearance date for TearScience's LipiFlow device.

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