Patients with glaucoma in Europe can now get access to Novartis' Simbrinza (brinzolamide/brimonidine tartrate), the only fixed-combination therapy that doesn't involve a beta-blocker.

The European Commission has approved the eye drops to decrease elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) in adult patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension, for which monotherapy provides insufficient IOP reduction.

Simbrinza combines two well-established treatments for elevated IOP into one multi-dose bottle, "offering a simplified schedule compared to brinzolamide and brimonidine administered separately," according to Novartis, which, it is hoped, will help tackle current poor adherence rates to therapy.

Up to 80% of patients deviate from their treatment regimen, which can increase the risk of progressive vision loss, according to Professor Barbara Cvenkel, MD, Head of Glaucoma Unit, Eye Hospital Ljubljana, Slovenia and member of the Executive Committee of the European Glaucoma Society (EGS). 

Addressing unmet need

Also, the fact that the therapy doesn't contain a beta-blocker also helps address a significant unmet need, because while beta blockers are commonly prescribed to lower IOP, they are contraindicated for many glaucoma patients suffering from certain respiratory or cardiac conditions.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, and open-angle glaucoma accounts for 74% of all cases worldwide. Less than 50% of patients are aware of their disease before blindness, and  elevated IOP is the only known modifiable risk factor. 

In clinical studies, Simbrinza showed strong efficacy to lower the IOP level from baseline by 23%-37%, while providing sustained IOP control throughout the day, Novartis said. The drug was approved in the US last year.