Swiss giant, Novartis, says that it has in-licensed a dry eye treatment, currently undergoing Phase III testing, known as rebamipide, for an undisclosed sum from Japan’s Otsuka.

Dry eye is a condition characterised by an inability to produce enough tears, or tears of the appropriate quality, to keep the eye healthy and comfortable. It can develop as a result of aging, inflammatory diseases, diseases of the eye and various medications. Current treatments include artificial tears, which patients self-administer four or more times per day. Unlike artificial tears, which simply lubricate the eyes and help maintain moisture, rebamipide works by increasing the levels of mucin covering the conjunctiva and cornea of the eye, and is also expected to increase tear quality and could also improve corneal health. There are currently 22 million patients who visit an ophthalmologist worldwide for dry eye symptoms and many more who self-treat or do not treat their condition at all.

“As dry eye can have many causes and affects a large and growing patient population, there is a high unmet medical need and opportunities exist for several new pharmacological treatment approaches,” said Flemming Ornskov, MD, President of Novartis Ophthalmics. “We expect rebamipide to provide distinct advantages to patients over currently available products.”