Aerie Pharmaceuticals Inc’s experimental glaucoma treatment Rhopressa is effective in lowering eye pressure, a preliminary review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded.
The review, posted on Wednesday on the FDA’s website, comes two days ahead of a meeting of outside experts who will advise the agency on whether the treatment should be approved.
Glaucoma, a condition caused by damage to the optic nerve, is the second-leading cause of blindness in the world. It is expected to affect more than 4 million Americans by 2030, up from 2.7 million today.
The FDA said it agreed with Aerie’s overall conclusion that Rhopressa, when given once a day, effectively lowers pressure inside the eye. Elevated eye pressure can cause glaucoma. However, the agency said the product was less effective when given twice a day in people with the highest pressure.
The disease is typically treated with a class of drugs known as prostaglandins that lower eye pressure. These include Pfizer Inc’s Xalatan, known generically as latanoprost, Novartis AG’s Travatan and Allergan Plc’s Lumigan. Rhopressa was tested against an older drug called timolol.
Rhopressa is the first in a new class of treatments. It also lowers eye pressure but does so by targeting the trabecular network, the main drain through which fluid flows out of the eye. It is intended to reduce the risk of changes in eyelash length and pigmentation.
(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)