The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of two new drugs to treat the elevated intraocular pressure which is often associated with glaucoma - Lumigan (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) 0.03% and Travatan (travoprost ophthalmic solution) 0.004%. They will provide additional alternatives for the reduction of intraocular pressure in patients who are intolerant of other intraoular lowering medications, or in patients who have had insufficient responses to other intraocular pressure lowering medications. Many of these patients might otherwise need surgery for management of their glaucoma.
Glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world,
is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma
represents a family of diseases commonly associated with optic nerve damage
and visual field changes (a narrowing of the eyes’ usual scope of vision). Elevated
intraocular pressure is a primary risk factor for glaucoma.
"Glaucoma is a serious eye disease affecting some two million
older Americans," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.
"Early detection of glaucoma and management of raised eye pressure can usually
prevent vision loss. These new drugs provide additional treatment alternatives
to preserve vision as well as preserve an individual’s quality of life."
In separate clinical trials, Lumigan and Travatan had similar
effects in lowering intraocular pressure. Higher intraocular pressures greatly
increase the risk of optic nerve damage and vision loss.
Side effects associated with Lumigan and Travatan may include
gradual darkening of eye color, darkening of eyelid skin, and increased thickness,
number, and darkness of eyelashes.
The availability of multiple medical alternatives provides physicians
with additional treatment options for their patients whose glaucoma is difficult-to-manage.
Lumigan will be marketed by Allergan, Inc. of Irvine, California.
Travatan will be marketed by Alcon Universal, Ltd of Fort Worth, Texas.