At the San Diego Ophthalmology Innovation Summit, many exciting developments from startup companies were announced. First, some memorable examples:
- Allegro Ophthalmics, which has a novel anti-integrin drug with positive early data for treatment of dry eye.
- Clarity Vision is offering the promise of corneal correction without tissue removal or laser. Its technology uses oxygen-free radicals to alter the corneal shape and has high ranges of correction possible with low effects on adjacent tissue.
- Keranova is a company pursuing robotic cataract surgery, with fast laser instruments that can make capsulotomies and soften the lens, leading to much more efficient and reproducible surgeries, mimicking but far exceeding the benefits of femtosecond lasers.
- Novaliq is offering water-free eye drops that deliver high doses of existing and future medications in a tiny droplet size without preservative. This caught many attendees’ attention, along with a company called ...
- Eyenovia, which creates a micro-spray of an 8 mL drop of topical medications — just the amount the eye can hold and very comfortably delivered to adults or children.
But will new products like these succeed? CEOs gathered for the opening session at OIS agreed that the biggest challenges companies face with new products is not whether they can achieve regulatory approval, as was the biggest hurdle a few years ago. Today, successfully selling a new product in the marketplace is the biggest challenge. Medical devices are especially vulnerable to the risk of failed commercialization, as we have seen with corneal inlays, which are only offered now by one company, and femtosecond lasers for cataract surgery, in which penetration has fallen far short of expectations.
So how can companies with new products avoid these failures? Ask physicians. While we all have different perspectives and levels of interest in new technology, physicians live every day in a market where new companies wish to sell. We know the inclinations of our patients, and more than anyone, we are in a position to influence the success of new drugs and devices.
Truly, OIS is an exciting meeting to attend because it brings together industry leaders, physicians and investors. Most of all this year, it was validating to see the physicians’ perspectives offering predictive power to the titans of our industry.
Disclosure: Hovanesian reports he is an investor in Allegro Ophthalmics and a consultant to Novaliq.