AbbVie scopes out $60M upfront investment in glaucoma devicemaker, plus $475M buyout option

AbbVie has set its sights on a new medical device partnership to expand the scope of its existing eye-care portfolio.

The Big Pharma is teaming up with Belgium’s iStar Medical, maker of a CE-marked implant that’s designed to reduce intraocular pressure associated with open-angle glaucoma.

Under the terms of their deal, AbbVie will dole out $60 million in an upfront payment to the devicemaker. It also snags the exclusive right to acquire iStar down the line, at which point it will oversee all future global development and sales of iStar’s MiniJect device.

If it chooses to exercise that option, AbbVie will pay out another $475 million, combining a closing payment and additional payouts as iStar hits certain milestones.

The acquisition won’t happen at least until iStar has completed its Star-V clinical study, which is currently in the enrollment phase and is aimed at helping to secure FDA clearance for the MiniJect implant.

The MiniJect device is implanted in a minimally invasive procedure. It’s sent through the eye’s anterior chamber toward the cornea and is meant to create more space between the chamber and the supraciliary space to reduce intraocular pressure linked to glaucoma. The device specifically targets open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease.

Previous clinical trials of the technology have demonstrated average reductions of between 35% and 40% in intraocular pressure at the two-year point after implantation. The device has also been shown to result in a low rate of complications and minimal need for the prescription eye drops typically used to help treat glaucoma.

MiniJect was approved in Europe at the end of 2021 and began its commercial launch there earlier this year.

With the initial $60 million from AbbVie, iStar will continue its development of the MiniJect implant and expand its commercial rollout.

AbbVie’s eye care portfolio already includes a variety of eye drops, stents and sustained release implants. The latter category includes the Durysta implant from AbbVie subsidiary Allergan, which dispenses the drug bimatoprost into the eye to treat intraocular pressure.