Some Price Relief May Be in Sight for Dry-Eye Drug Treatment

Users of the expensive Allergan PLC dry-eye drug Restasis may shed happy tears soon. San Diego-based ophthalmic pharmaceutical company Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced it will make a cheaper, compounded version of the Allergan blockbuster.

Restasis, which pulled in $1.4 billion in U.S. sales last year, has been all over the news of late after Allergan tried to protect the Restasis franchise from patent review board scrutiny by transferring ownership of the patents to the St. Regis Mohawk. The patents were recently invalidated but Allergan is appealing.

Imprimis’ Oct. 19 announcement it would be entering the market with a cheaper, compounded version of the drug may provide patients with some price relief on the expensive treatment.

Imprimis said initial prescriptions for the compounded drug will be offered for 99 cents for a one-month supply and refills will be available at $79 per month. That compares with more than $5,000 per year for Restasis, according to Mark L. Baum, Imprimis’ chief executive officer.

Whether the market responds to this cheaper, alternative formulation of the dry-eye treatment is an open question, however, because compounded drugs require a doctor to write a prescription tailored specifically for the needs of a particular patient. The Imprimis product is made from Food and Drug Administration-approved drug components and compounded in FDA-inspected facilities, which are subject to specific manufacturing controls.

Approximately 30 million Americans may have dry-eye disease, which characterized by irritated, gritty, scratchy or burning eyes and blurred vision, Imprimis said.

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