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Dry Eye Survey: Ophthalmologists Cite Treatment Limitations/Gaps in Treatment of Moderate to Severe Dry Eye

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Aton Pharma, Inc., a diversified specialty pharmaceutical company, announced results of a recent survey of ophthalmologists regarding issues in the treatment of moderate to severe cases of dry eye. Aton provides the dry eye medication Lacrisert(R) (hydroxypropyl cellulose ophthalmic insert), a preservative-free, once-daily*, sustained release prescription insert that helps to retain moisture, stabilize the tear film, and lubricate the eye.

Nearly all of the ophthalmologists surveyed (94%) believe more treatment options are needed for moderate to severe dry eye. While 80% feel current therapies are effective for mild dry eye, only 33% feel they are effective for moderate dry eye and 67% feel they are only somewhat effective or not very effective. Only 5% feel current therapies are effective for severe dry eye, while 56% feel they are somewhat effective and 38%, not very or not at all effective.

"Ophthalmologists are still looking for more effective therapies for treating moderate to severe dry eye," commented Dr. Penny Asbell, Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Director, Cornea Services and Refractive Surgery Center, New York; and co-author of the pivotal textbook 'Dry Eye Disease, the Clinician's Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment.' "Nearly all ophthalmologists want more treatment options for these more serious cases." Dr. Asbell is a member of Aton Pharma's Scientific Advisory Board.

"We are proud to be working with Dr. Asbell to contribute to eye care professionals' insights about the state of the art of treatment of dry eye," stated Michael G. Wells, Chief Executive Officer of Aton Pharma. "Ophthalmology is one of the important markets Aton serves as a diversified specialty pharmaceutical company providing medically essential therapies to patients around the world."

Treatment Approaches and Options

The survey respondents reported that over the course of a year, they prescribe, recommend or suggest an average of 1.9 different treatment approaches for each mild dry eye patient, 3.2 treatment approaches for each moderate dry eye patient and 4.9 treatment approaches for each severe dry eye patient. Most (81%) of the survey respondents reported that signs and symptoms of moderate/severe dry eye can be improved but seldom eliminated.

"We work very hard to help moderate to severe dry eye patients seeking relief," Dr. Asbell continued, "but the reality is, there is only so much we can do for them right now. Due to the great variation among dry eye patients, we need as many effective treatment options as possible." Most (83%) of the survey respondents feel there is a treatment gap between artificial tears and more aggressive treatments for moderate/severe dry eye.

Lacrisert is administered by the patient into the inferior cul-de-sac of the eye, where it gently dissolves to provide lubrication and protection to the surface of the eye. Lacrisert provides practitioners and patients with an intermediate treatment option between artificial tears and more aggressive treatments.

Treatment Goals and Considerations

In other survey results, the chief goals in treatment of moderate/severe dry eye patients were identified by ophthalmologists as maintaining and protecting the ocular surface (ranked #1 or #2 goal by 74%) and lubricating and hydrating the ocular surface (ranked #1 or #2 goal by 67%).

Among the most common key considerations by ophthalmologists when selecting treatment products for moderate/severe dry eye patients are ability to provide continuous relief (84%) and ability to use long-term (74%). Other considerations selected by a majority include dosing frequency (66%), length of time preserving the tear film (66%) and length of time to effectiveness (63%).

Once the patient inserts Lacrisert in the morning or at bedtime, it usually lasts the entire day or night, providing an important option to offer patients suffering from chronic discomfort from dry eye disease. In some patients, Lacrisert may also help slow, stop or reverse further damage to the corneal surface. Lacrisert is preservative-free and can be used concomitantly with other dry eye medications.

Survey Methodology

The survey was completed between October 9 and October 21, 2008. Ophthalmologists across the nation were invited via e-mail to enter the online survey, and those who treated 4 or more moderate to severe dry eye patients per month were asked to complete the survey. A total of 245 completed the survey, including 51 corneal specialists, 153 comprehensive/general ophthalmologists and 41 from other ophthalmology specialty categories. A survey sample of this size has a 95% confidence interval of + 6%.

About Dry Eye

Dry eye can result from a wide range of conditions, including aging; hormonal changes; environmental conditions such as cigarette smoke, dust, air conditioning or sun exposure; cold or allergy medications; as a side effect of vision correction surgery or cosmetic eyelid surgery; contact lens use; and Sjogren's syndrome. Despite decades of research and advances in treatment, dry eye syndrome remains one of the most common and challenging issues clinicians deal with in practice. Because it is not a condition identified by a specific pathological mechanism, no single therapeutic solution works for all patients.

About Lacrisert

Lacrisert has been FDA-approved for use in patients with moderate to severe dry eye and available by prescription for more than two decades. Unlike artificial tear substitutes that have a residence time measured in minutes, Lacrisert provides continual lubrication and protection to the surface of the eye for all-day relief. Lacrisert acts to stabilize and thicken the pre-corneal tear film and prolong the tear film breakup time, which is usually accelerated in patients with dry eye states. Information and educational video content are available at

Most adverse reactions with Lacrisert were mild and transient and included transient blurring of vision, ocular discomfort or irritation, matting or stickiness of eyelashes, photophobia, hypersensitivity, edema of the eyelids, and hyperemia. Lacrisert should not be used by patients who are hypersensitive to hydroxypropyl cellulose. If improperly placed, Lacrisert may result in corneal abrasion.

Lacrisert, as demonstrated in several clinical studies, can help to alleviate symptoms in moderate to severe dry eye patients who may not be receiving adequate relief from artificial tears or who may use preserved tears too often. In a study comparing Lacrisert once-daily with artificial tears used at least 4 times a day, Lacrisert was more effective at relieving symptoms and was able to help existing tears stay longer on the eye surface. Most patients in clinical studies preferred Lacrisert over artificial tears. Lacrisert has also been shown to be effective in patients with dry eye due to Sjogren's syndrome. There are no known interactions with other eye medications.

About Aton Pharma, Inc.

Aton Pharma, Inc., headquartered in Lawrenceville, NJ, is a global, diversified specialty pharmaceutical company providing essential treatments for under-treated diseases, including chronic moderate to severe dry eye, to patients around the world. Aton's mission is to improve patient outcomes and quality of life worldwide by enhancing and expanding access and availability of medically essential therapeutics. Aton's portfolio of seven products, with sales in 32 countries, targets rare and orphan metabolic, neurological, cardiovascular and ophthalmic diseases. For more information, see

* Some patients may require the flexibility of twice-daily dosing for

optimal results.

SOURCE Aton Pharma, Inc.
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