pSivida Corp. (NSDQ:PSDV) and Alimera Sciences (NSDQ:ALIM) are seeking a green light from the Food & Drug Administration for a drug/device combination to treat diabetic macular degeneration.
Watertown, Mass.-based pSivida said Alimera, which licenses the Iluvien technology from pSivida, submitted a new drug application to the FDA. The technology is designed to deliver sustained, low doses of flucocinolone acetonide to the retina at the rear of the eyeball.
Alimera asked the federal watchdog for priority review, an expedited process that could bring an FDA response during the fourth quarter, according to a press release.
There are no approved drugs to treat DME, according to pSivida president and CEO Paul Ashton, adding that Iluvien is the company’s third product aimed at back-of-the-eye diseases. The first two won FDA approval and are on the market, Ashton said: Retisert, for the treatment of posterior uveitis, and Vitrasert for the treatment of AIDS-related cytomegalovirus retinitis. Both are licensed to Bausch & Lomb Inc.
The company is also working on a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, which involves the gradual deterioration of the rods and cones that make up the retina. In April Ashton told MassDevice that its Durasert device also uses flucocinolone acetonide, a steroid, to treat the disease.
“What we’ve done is use a very small insertable drug delivery device to release a steroid directly into the eye that will just provide some protection and slow down the rates of vision loss," he said. "With a condition that takes 20 years to make you blind, if you slow it down by a factor of two, that’s pretty good.”
The partnership with Alimera has already paid dividends, namely a $15.3 million payment triggered by Alimera’s April 21 initial public offering. At the time Ashton told us pSivida planned to use the cash to further develop its product pipeline. If the FDA gives the nod to Iluvien, it would trigger another, $25 million milestone payment from Alimera, plus 20 percent royalties on net profits from sales of the treatment.