Ok, maybe a little pun in the title.
Yesterday, I wrote about Alimera’s study using Iluvien™ for the treatment of diabetic macular edema. As we have been commonly using intraocular steroid injections to treat this condition (see previous posts under “treatments”), it only makes sense that there are now products (Ozurdex/Allergan and Iluvien/Alimera) that have been designed for long-term release of steroids when injected into the eye.
Ten years ago, the notion of injecting medicines directly into the eye on a regular basis were somewhat far-reaching. There were some treatments for AIDS eye disease (CMV retinitis) that required repeated and frequent eye injections, but the risks (of the injections) were low. There was no other therapy. Intravenous and oral medications just didn’t work. If no shot were given, then the patient could go blind….in a matter of a few weeks. (As a matter of fact, an intraocular device did become available for continuous release, but there were significant drawbacks.)
The “timing” is perfect for these injectable intraocular drug delivery systems. Intravitreal injections are now common place. There is no more hesitation. These eye injections are routinely given in a retina specialists office. The injections use very thin needles. Since the insertion site is so small, surgery is avoided as these entry sites seal by themselves. We have discussed the merits of intraocular injections before; Lucentis®, Macugen®, Avastin®, and steroids.
The “timing” is perfect for sustained release intraocular drug delivery systems. In cases of macular degeneration, the treatments need to be repeated and can be as frequent as once a month. These monthly injections may need to be given for over a year.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could………..some day, have sustained intraocular drug delivery systems that were releasing anti-macular degeneration drugs? Actually, that day may be just around the corner.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist