Ophthalmic drug delivery technologies or mechanisms represent one of the interesting and challenging endeavors as the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the eye renders highly impervious properties to the foreign substances. Ocular drug delivery technologies provide several advantages such as possibility of self medication and minimal use of needles; also it enables high penetration of low molecular weight drugs and provides specific targeting within the ocular globe. On the other hand limited permeability of cornea results in low absorption of the drugs and also it renders brisk elimination of drug through the eye due to blinking and continuous tear flow and can cause unwanted systemic side effects as major portion of the dose is drained into lacrimal ducts. These factors collectively impact the growth and acceptance of several ocular drug delivery technologies. The various approaches adopted to ensure development of effective drug delivery technologies are controlled and sustained release of drugs and improvement in bioavailability. Lacrisert, Retisert, Vitrasert, Durasite and Microneedle are some of the instances of patented technologies employed in ocular drug delivery systems.
Eye drops, systemic means, topical means and intraocular injections represent the conventional means of ocular drug delivery mechanisms. These mechanisms have several disadvantages such as increased patient discomfort, less efficient, low absorption and other side effects. Hence, this leads to the development of alternative and effective systems for delivery of ophthalmic medications. Intense research is carried out to ensure sustained and controlled release of the active agents with negligible side effects. It is observed that several drug delivery technologies are in developmental phases. For instance, intravitreal injections constitute an effective and direct approach to deliver medications to the posterior segment. However, these are associated with severe side effects such as vitreous hemorrhage, endophthalmitis, retinal detachment and cataract.
Hence, there is a need of sustained release devices that provide alternative routes for delivering drugs to the eye such as erodible and biodegradable or non-biodegradable inserts. In addition, use of biodegradable polymer nanoparticles as carriers for targeted drug delivery is one of the promising technologies and is still in developmental phases. In case of glaucoma medications, researchers are focusing on use of drug eluting ocular conformers with antifibrotic agents placed in contact lenses, punctual plugs and glaucoma shunts to deliver glaucoma drugs to eyes.
The market for ocular drug delivery technologies can be segmented on the basis of the type of the drug delivery systems and geography. The geography includes the analysis of the ocular drug delivery technologies in four major geographies namely North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Rest of the World. Ozurdex (by Allergan) refers to a biodegradable implant that enables prolonged delivery of steroids and is recently approved by the U.S. FDA to treat macular edema. Retisert (by Bausch + Lomb) is non-biodegradable and is approved for noninfectious posterior uvetitis and requires surgical implantation to sclera. Prodrugs (pharmacological materials administered in an inactive form). These substances are an effective alternative to the injectable devices. For instance, Cortiject (by Novagali Pharma) is an emulsion without solvent and preservatives and encloses a tissue activated corticosteroid prodrug. This is in the phase I and currently designed for patients with diabetic retinopathy. Development of hydrogel contact lenses, novel punctual plugs and intraocular pump implants constitute the other developments in ocular drug delivery technologies. In addition, the events such as research and development projects, product approvals, strategic partnerships and alliances by the key players also strongly impact the market growth.
Some of the major factors that influence the market growth are increasing ocular disorders across the globe and increased need and demand for continuous medications. These in turn augment the need and demand for effective drug delivering technologies. In addition, consistent technological advances such as promising field of nanomedicine. Nanocarriers (nanoparticles, dendrimers, and liposomes) are currently under experimental phases in order to use them as a means of effective ocular drug delivery. On the other hand, high cost involved in the research and lack of accessibility of these technologies are some of the factors that might affect adoption and use of these technologies. Hoya Corporation, Bausch & Lomb, Inc., Abbott Medical Optics and CooperVision, Inc. are some of the companies operating in this market.
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