Sameer Paigankar, MD, Lavue Pharmaceuticals, speaks on the new concepts and approaches towards eyecare offered by Lavue
Brief us on the establishment of Lavue Pharmaceuticals.
Lavue Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Mumbai, is a speciality pharma company dedicated to ‘Eye Care’. Lavue is derived from French ‘La Vue’ which stands for ‘Vision’. We have been contemplating on the launch of an ophthalmology-specific organisation for over a few years now. Given my background of over 22 years in the pharma industry, with having successfully established drug discovery infrastructure, API business, entire generic R&D back-end, launching new companies, new divisions and new products, I was in search of new healthcare areas, wherein technology and innovative ideas can make a positive difference to the treatment approach.
This pursuit led us to eye care management, which has seen very few revolutionary changes over the past few decades. The genesis of Lavue thus arose from this desire to introduce new innovations for better disease management in ophthalmology. Lavue is focussed on developing, sourcing and commercialising innovative eye care products with novel ingredients, superior and safe formulations and world-class packaging. With a vision of, ‘Innovation for Improved Vision’, Lavue offers a host of products for a variety of eye conditions afflicting all components of the eye, from the front to the rear and more.
How is the company achieving its vision of ‘Innovation for Improved Vision’?
We have a multi-pronged approach towards realising our vision of, ‘Innovation for Improved Vision’. We have used innovative technologies to solve many formulation issues of commonly used eye drops. To cite a few examples, to improve retention of the eye drops on the ocular surface for better treatment outcomes, we have used AHG Technology (Adhesive Hydro-Gel Technology). In another instance, we have overcome the issues with using eye drops as suspension with our innovative CDIC Technology and UFD Technology. Suspensions, as you are aware, when instilled in the eye tend to irritate the already irritated eye, leading thereby to more tearing and drug washout. Using special technologies, we have formulated two commonly use eye medications, Nepafenac-a NSAID for painful ocular conditions and Rebamipide – a mucin secretagogue for dry eye management as clear liquids.
Secondly, all our eye drops are BAK-free. BAK is a commonly used preservative in eye drops. When used regularly, BAK can lead to many ocular complications, as BAK itself leads to inflammation and cytotoxicity. Using innovative approaches, we even have ‘PF – Preservative Free’ formulations for certain products in our range. This will give doctors the confidence to use our products safely in patients, even for a longer term. With our international collaborations, we are also offering some of the global best approaches in eye are and eye health management in India. We are offering, for the first time in India, the concept of ‘disease-specific nutraceuticals’ for ophthalmic conditions.
In product forms for oral use too, we have made a very appealing difference. We have introduced ‘Gummies’ for the first time in ophthalmology, the delicious way to eye health. We have offered solutions for certain eye conditions that are looming large as major threats to mankind in the current digital era that we are living in. The concept of ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’ and the innovative treatment of the same with the two branded ingredients, Lutemax 2020 and AstaReal, is a totally new concept to Indian ophthalmologists. Likewise, in India, there were no eye health-specific formulation for children, despite the growing incidence of eye health issues in children due to changing life style issues such as poor nutrition, lack of outdoor play and digital overuse in the younger population. We have provided innovative solutions for both these issues with our Gummies, viz., Luteza for Computer Vision Syndrome in adults and Eysential-Kids for maintenance of eye health in growing children above five years of age.
Tell us about the company’s international collaborations.
We wanted to offer the world’s best ingredients to Indian patients, with an assurance of high grade active principles, reliable efficacy and safety which is backed by clinical trials and scientific evidence. For meeting this, we have technical collaborations with four international healthcare organisations from countries across the globe. Lavue is pleased to offer, for the first time in India, formulations with branded ingredients from reputed companies, including, OmniActive Health Technologies, USA for their Lutemax 2020, Fuji Chemical Industries Co., Japan for AstaReal, AnklamExtrakt, Germany for an innovative approach to dry eye management, Bitop, Germany for another innovative approach to dry eye management.
I would like to know about the new concepts and new approaches in eye care offered by Lavue, that existing major players have not even looked at.
We will begin with simple instances and progress to more intricate issues that we have addressed.
Look at the eye drop containers in the country. Majority of them are unchanged for over two to three decades. Patients have great difficulty in administering these drops by themselves and much of the drops end up getting wasted along the cheeks and nose of the patient, due to crude delivery of the drops. They flow far too easily and freely. We have introduced all our eye drop brands in the ‘Doctors’ pack’. In this pack, there is a microlitre controlled drop dispensing with only one drop at a time being dispensed, that too with controlled drop size.
Another very small but critical area of concern which we have addressed is the piercing of the eye drop bottle nozzle. Despite all care taken in manufacturing and sterilising the eye drops, it is not uncommon to see patients use safety pins and needles to pierce the nozzle, in spite of a piercing device available in the cap, since most of the patients are not aware of the same. We have provided in the doctors’ pack, pre-punctured vials, that will eliminate the use of needles and safety pins!
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) endorses the uniform use of a colour coding system for the caps and labels of topical ocular medications. This is a voluntary code to prevent serious adverse events resulting from patient’s difficulty in distinguishing among various ocular medications. We have adopted this colour coding in all our label design, a distinction that was very well received by ophthalmologists.
As mentioned earlier, all our products are BAK-free for better patient safety.
Our technologically solutions to improve eye drop formulations, such as, offering clear solutions for drugs which were hitherto being offered as suspensions, also set us apart.
Specific nutritional approach to eye conditions is yet another new concept we have brought in. Ophthalmologists have already acknowledged and appreciated the difference with our scientifically backed brands Luteza gummies, Eysential-Kids gummies, Ocusoothe capsules and Fortareds capsules for varying conditions of the eye. In future too, we will continue with this approach.
How can we protect the eye from within?
In case of eyes, the main approach has been topical, with the use of eye drops or ointments mainly. However, major advances in the scientific understanding of aetio-pathogenesis of diseases have lead to an increasing interest in a new area of research, viz., on the use of nutraceuticals for the prevention and management of eye conditions.
One may wonder if diet can influence eye health or the progress of degenerative eye diseases. The impact of diet on eye health has recently become of rapidly increasing interest to researchers studying a variety of ophthalmic disorders including among others, dry eye disease, cataract, macular degeneration and glaucoma. There is a high incidence of these chronic conditions, particularly in the elderly and each can severely affect quality of life and are expensive disabilities to manage often because of the external care required. The old dictum, ‘Prevention is better than cure’, is very apt in this situation. In many of the chronic conditions, the underlying causative mechanism includes the triad of oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis, all of which are amenable to modification using nutraceutical interventions. Compared to most other organs, the eye is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage due to its exposure to light and high metabolism. Recent literature indicates that nutrients important in vision health include vitamins and minerals with antioxidant functions besides carotenoids and natural herbal supplements. Our approach is to study these ocular conditions and present a disease-specific nutritional supplement to protect the eye from within.
As the company is dedicated to eye care, tell us about the services and products offered by Lavue Pharmaceuticals.
As mentioned earlier, Lavue is focussed on offering innovative eye care products with novel ingredients, superior and safe formulations and world-class packaging. Our range of products includes state-of-the-art solutions to widely prevalent conditions, such as, dry eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, eye infections and inflammatory conditions, ocular allergies, besides offering a range of ‘Intra-operative consumables’ and for the first time in India, a spectrum of nutraceuticals with varying components to meet needs of specific eye conditions. With a firm commitment to preserve visual acuity and protecting against the rampant digital exposure induced eye damage across all ages, we also have a range of prophylactic nutraceuticals for children and adults.
What is the company’s roadmap for the next five years?
We have ambitious plans to expand in both, range and reach, over the next five years. Our next focus will be to reach pan-India very soon and after adding a few more innovative products for dry eye disease management we will revolutionise the area of glaucoma care. Glaucoma is a very common condition in India, for which doctors are looking forward to newer treatment approaches. Subsequently, we will work on diabetic retinopathy too. As you are aware, India ranks No. 1 in the world in diabetes incidence and the complication of diabetic retinopathy is looming large ahead. Innovative approaches to these and other eye conditions are under evaluation. Over the next five years, we plan to emerge among the top ophthalmology companies in the country with our range of innovative products. We live by our slogan, ‘Lavue: The Future of Eyetech’.