FDA approves Allergan's long-term eye implant for glaucoma

eye
Allergan estimates that as many as 80% of patients are not using their glaucoma eye drop medications as prescribed and plans to eventually market the continuous drug implant as an alternative to daily medications and potentially surgery as clinical testing continues. (Pixabay)

The active ingredient in Allergan’s eyelash-growing solution Latisse has found a new form with the FDA’s approval of the glaucoma drug bimatoprost developed as a long-term, biodegradable eye implant.

Dubbed Durysta, the 10 mcg implant is designed to rest as a small polymer plug on the edge of the iris, underneath the cornea, to help regulate fluid pressure within the eye in people with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

In phase 3 clinical studies, the sustained-release prostaglandin analog lowered intraocular pressure by 30% over a three-month period. After three doses, more than 80% participants reported they did not need additional treatments, such as medicated eye drops, to help maintain their intraocular pressure for at least one year.

"Today's FDA approval marks a breakthrough milestone for the glaucoma community and provides a much-needed option for patients challenged with topical drops or needing alternative options," Allergan’s chief R&D officer, David Nicholson, said in a statement.

If left uncontrolled, high intraocular pressure can damage the optic nerve, leading to the progressive vision loss tied to glaucoma. Therapies can include laser procedures or minimally invasive incisions aimed at the drainage systems of the eye—but the most common, front-line treatment remains topical eye drops on a regular basis.

RELATED: FDA nod for smart contact lens that continuously monitors eye pressure changes in glaucoma

However, Allergan estimates that as many as 80% of patients are not using these medications as prescribed, or adhering to the daily schedule. The Big Pharma—which also markets bimatoprost as glaucoma eye drop Lumigan—describes Durysta as the first biodegradable, sustained-release, intracameral implant for this indication.

Going forward, Allergan said it is continuing five ongoing phase 3 clinical studies of Durysta to net additional information to its FDA label, as well as to support approvals internationally. This includes examinations of the implant’s duration of effect, and comparisons to laser-based procedures.

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