discovering dry eye
The Artificial Tear Market Has Not Dried Up
BY KELLY K. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD
Over the past two weeks, three different advertisements for new formulations of tear supplements have crossed my desk, after a relatively quiet period on the marketing front. With all of the recent hype over pending FDA approval of potential medications for dry eye, new artificial tear formulations have taken a back seat...until now.
CooperVision has partnered with Rohoto Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. of Japan and has announced a new artificial tear drop called Rhoto Zi. According to the manufacturer, Rohoto Zi contains povidone to lubricate and refresh dry and tired eyes. Upon instillation, the ocular surface actually feels cool, which may be power of suggestion, ingredient (camphor) or overall lubrication. The packaging of this product is very catchy. Rather than the standard dropper bottle, the container is shaped like a square, set on one corner. The top is triangular-shaped, and the container is clear, allowing for viewing of the amount left in the bottle. While Rohoto Zi complies with over-the-counter monographs, it has not been approved for use with contact lenses.
The second announcement to cross my desk came over the Internet. The company, SimplyTaboo (www.simplytaboo.com), is marketing three alcohol-free drops: Hye-Drops for redness relief, Wipe-Out for moisturizing tired and irritated eyes and Cryin', which replicates one's own natural tears, according to the manufacturer. The drops are sold in alternative shops, novelty gift shops, student bookstores and convenience stores. This marketing approach is designed to "go where the customer is" and targets customers less likely to shop for dry eye relief in the traditional pharmacy. While this marketing approach is different from that of CooperVision and Rohoto Zi, each company is attempting to capture a slightly different market than the traditional buyer of tear substitutes.
By Rx Only
Finally, Dr. Frank Holly, a well-respected dry eye researcher, has developed three artificial tear formulations that will be available by prescription only. The three tear products that treat the entire spectrum of dry eye are: Nutratear for mild dry eye and computer vision syndrome, Dakrina for moderate dry eye and Sjögren's syndrome (contains Vitamin A) and Dwelle for severe dry eye. All three products are in compliance with the FDA ophthalmic monograph.
As with the other two companies, the marketing strategy used here targets patients in an unusual way. As mentioned previously, the formulations will only be available by prescription through a Dallas pharmacy: Apothecure Inc. (www.apothecure.com). Because many health insurance plans reimburse prescriptions from compounding pharmacies and many dry eye patients are probably unhappy with the out-of-pocket costs of over-the-counter artificial tears, using this strategy may appeal to yet a different group of dry eye patients.
Those of you who do not believe that the frequent instillation of artificial tears can help a dry eye patient in the absence of any approved topical medical therapy should help patients to get into a routine with artificial tear usage. The results can be surprising, to both the doctor and the patient.
You may or may not decide to recommend one of the seven products mentioned above to your dry eye patients. Regardless, it is good to know that the artificial tear market is alive and growing.
Dr. Nichols is assistant professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University College of Optometry in the area of dry eye research.