Sankara Eye Hospital views need for better drugs, modalities to treat AMD & glucoma

Eye care major Sankara Eye Hospital sees the need for advanced ophthalmic drugs and development of better modalities to treat conditions like age-related macular degeneration(AMD) and glaucoma.

There are  eye diseases that still need advanced drugs for care. India is a home to generic drugs. There is still some concern amongst eye care practitioners about the efficacy of the molecules produced by various companies. Glaucoma requires medication to be used lifelong and compliance is an issue. A sustained delivery regimen would be helpful. Age related retinal diseases are currently treated with anti vascular endothelial factor (VEGF). These may require multiple injections and the most commonly used molecule bevazizumab is an off label formulation. A better modality to treat this disorder needs to be developed, Kishor Joshi, country head, business development, Sankara Eye Hospitals told Pharmabiz.

Over the last two decades, ophthalmology  has seen breakthroughs and technological advances especially at point of care delivery where  diagnosis is undertaken using hand held devices and telemedicine to address needs of a large under served populations in India. Devices such as Trinethra have automated many a diagnosis and investigations. Usage of newer type of lenses/collagens has ensured that the eye care is at forefront, he added.

There are several challenges for eye care majors including  access to funds and latest  technology which  creates a huge opportunity for  entrepreneurs, investors and experts, he said

India accounts for  1/3 of the world’s blind population. Around  400 million need eye care, and this is  largely provided by the government funded National Programme for Control of Blindness. The treatment is  largely through NGO eye hospitals besides government sector. The  corporatization of eye care has created an influx of ophthalmic chains into the country to provide early detection and immediate treatment.

The eye care industry is predicted  to continue its growth path  through the decade at upwards of a 15% CAGR. An ageing and  diabetic population would result in a larger pool of patients requiring eye care as cataracts and diabetic eye disease are on the rise. Affordability and  better insurance coverage would also help propel the growth, said Johi.

Cultural prejudices prevent children from wearing appropriate spectacle corrections or getting squints operated.  Certain birth anomalies and genetic diseases are still beyond current treatment. Ocular cancers are relatively rare, but at  Sankara over  150 children are treated for  retinoblastoma requiring  a combination of multiple chemotherapies, brachytherapy and surgical or lasers. Treatment cost and repeated follow ups results in a large drop out rate.

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