Our focus this month is on Allergan, plc, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Dublin. I recently had the pleasure to speak with Herman Cukier, senior vice president of US Eye Care.
Mr. Cukier, please tell us about your company in terms of its history and direction.
Allergan has a rich, profound legacy in the field of eye care, where it began as a company about 70 years ago in Southern California. Today, Allergan is one of the largest global pharma healthcare enterprises, covering seven therapeutic areas with sales of approximately $16 billion annually and approximately 18,000 employees worldwide. We’re one of the largest pharmaceutical eyecare companies in the world, and we cover eye conditions that range from dry eye to glaucoma to retinal disorders. We strive to constantly focus on providing the most progressive innovation in areas of unmet need.
Dry eye is a large component of Allergan’s U.S. sales base. Restasis is the leading prescription medication for dry eye. We also have the leading portfolio of artificial tears with our Refresh line. Dry eye is a core component of Allergan, and we’re proud of the leadership position that we’ve built in that space.
This is complemented by our position in glaucoma, where we have three leading branded therapeutic agents, and in the retinal space, where we have our flagship product, Ozurdex, and are developing gene therapies for retinal diseases.
Tell us about any new products or new developments in which Allergan is involved.
Our innovation of the multidose bottle technology for Restasis has enhanced the offering proposition of the product. And, we’re not just seeing Restasis patients being switched from vials to bottles; a significant percentage of the prescriptions are for new patients.
We recently launched a product called Xen, which is a microinvasive glaucoma (MIG) surgical technology. I think what we may see in the future of glaucoma management is a reconsideration of the risk/benefit balance of intervening much earlier with some type of interventional procedure, such as a MIG.
We also think that having sustained drug delivery technology is a critical need. We have in our pipeline bimatoprost SR, which is an implant providing sustained release of bimatoprost. We also purchased and are currently developing a ring technology that will accomplish sustained release of bimatoprost.
In dry eye, we’re thrilled to have received clearance and started to introduce TrueTear, the first ever neurostimulator technology for use in eye care. It’s currently cleared for stimulating tear production; over time, we hope to ultimately evolve the label to clarify its applicability in dry eye management.
One final development that we’re excited about is Abicipar, which is potentially the next innovation in anti-VEGF management for both age-related macular degeneration and for diabetic macular edema.
Tell us your vision for the dry eye field in the short term (less than 5 years) and in the long term (20 years from now).
As younger patients are developing more profound and chronic conditions, I think that people are going to start to view their ocular conditions as not something for which they should intervene only when it reaches a critical state. My hope is that people are going to consider the comfort of their eye health, particularly the ocular surface and similar conditions, as part of overall health/wellness and self vibrancy. I think that newer and future technologies will enable us to look at these patients through a different lens and offer a different intervening consideration. Neurostimulation may provide this, but perhaps it is just part of the beginning of the evolution to get patients to that point. CLS