Novartis takes on dry-eye market with drug in-licensing move
Novartis has announced that its eyecare-focused division Alcon has in-licensed dry-eye drug ECF843 from US firm Lubris for ophthalmic indications across the globe.
ECF843 is a recombinant form of human lubricin, an endogenous glycoprotein that occurs in high friction areas such as the tear film in the eye, where it binds to and protects the ocular surface. It is thought that the drug is able to restore tear film function, reduce friction and relieve dry eye, a condition characterised by insufficient moisture in the eye which leads to inflammation, discomfort and sensitivity to light, which affects over 334 million patients worldwide
The clinical effectiveness of the drug was shown in a small Phase 2 study, where it displayed the potential to increase lubrication in the eye and relieve dry eye within 28 days.
The move appears to directly contest rivals Allergan, whose dry-eye drug Restasis (cyclosporine) had firmly established itself as the main player in the market, and Shire, whose Xiidra (lifitegrast) was launched last year.
"ECF843 has the potential to be the first therapeutic to provide rapid relief of dry eye symptoms and significantly improve signs," commented Vasant Narasimhan, Global Head, Drug Development and CMO at Novartis. “Exercising our option to in-license ECF843, along with our recent acquisition of Encore Medical for the treatment of presbyopia, underscores our commitment to treating diseases of the front of the eye which impact millions of people worldwide."