FDA approves prescription Zaditor® for over-the-counter relief from itchy eyes

Zaditor provides up to 12 hours of continuous itch relief with one drop



FDA approves prescription Zaditor(r) for over-the-counter relief from itchy eyes.
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Florham Park, NJ, October 20, 2006 -- Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved prescription Zaditor® (ketotifen fumarate ophthalmic solution 0.025%), indicated for the temporary prevention of itchy eyes due to allergic conjunctivitis, for OTC use. An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from eye allergies. Whether in reaction to seasonal allergens including pollen and ragweed, or perennial allergens such as animal hair or pet dander, itchy eyes are a main complaint.

While most OTC products provide only 3-4 hours of short-term relief, Zaditor's full prescription strength formula offers eye itch relief that works in minutes and lasts up to 12 hours with just one drop. This significantly reduces the number of doses required per day to keep affected eyes itch-free. In addition, Zaditor is the first OTC eye itch medication safe for use in children as young as three.

"Now for the first time, people who suffer from itchy eyes caused by allergens such as pollen or pet dander can get fast, long-acting relief over-the-counter with Zaditor," says Marion Morton, Head of the US Novartis Ophthalmics Business Unit. "Because Zaditor is now available at full prescription strength without a prescription, consumers can save time and money without sacrificing long-lasting symptom relief."

Zaditor is the only OTC drop to treat eye itch associated with pollen, ragweed, grass, animal hair and dander without the potentially negative effects of a decongestant. Many OTC eye drops contain topical decongestants, which constrict the blood vessels to reduce the appearance of redness in the eye. With regular use, these products can interfere with the eye's natural ability to regulate the blood vessels, resulting in a continued redness for a period of time after discontinuation (rebound effect). Zaditor does not contain a decongestant and may be used without risk of rebound redness.

"The availability of Zaditor without a prescription greatly improves treatment options for eye itch sufferers," said Jane MacEnroe, MD, Associate Director, Medical Information and Communication, Novartis Ophthalmics. "For the first time, patients can get lasting relief over-the-counter without worrying about potential side-effects associated with long-term use of topical decongestants found in other OTC eye itch drops."

Triple Mechanism of Action Zaditor is the only OTC eye itch drop with a triple-action formula to provide fast, durable efficacy at the source. It includes a:

  • Potent antihistamine that rapidly relieves itchy eyes within minutes
  • Mast cell stabilizer that provides extended relief for up to 12 hours
  • Prevents the release of chemical mediators to stop the late phase allergic reaction

Histamines, a chemical made by the body during an allergic reaction, are a primary cause of itchy eyes. Unlike most OTC drops, Zaditor blocks the histamines that cause itchy eyes and prevents the release of additional histamines, treating the source of the itch, not just the symptoms.

Approved in 1999 for prescription use, Zaditor has become a leading treatment for the temporary prevention of itchy eyes due to allergic conjunctivitis. Zaditor will be available over-the-counter in drug and chain stores nationwide beginning January 2007. It has a suggested retail price of $14.99 for a 30-day supply. In clinical studies, Zaditor was well tolerated and any side effects are generally mild.

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About Novartis Ophthalmics
Novartis Ophthalmics, a business unit of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, is a leader in research, development and manufacturing of leading ophthalmic pharmaceuticals that assist in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, eye inflammation, glaucoma, ocular allergies and other disorders of the eye. Novartis Ophthalmics products are available in more than 110 different countries. Novartis products are made in Switzerland, France, the United States and Canada.

About Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Located in East Hanover, New Jersey, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate of Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, treat disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in both patented and generic pharmaceuticals. We are strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics, human vaccines and leading self-medication OTC brands. In 2005, the Group's businesses achieved net sales of USD 32.2 billion and net income of USD 6.1 billion. Approximately USD 4.8 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 97,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

Disclaimer
The foregoing release contains forward-looking statements that can be identified by terminology such as "will," or similar expressions, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential future sales of Zaditor. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results with Zaditor to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Management's expectations regarding Zaditor could be affected by, among other things, competition in general; increased government, industry, and general public pricing pressures; unexpected clinical trial results, including additional analysis of Zaditor clinical data, or new clinical data; unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; the company's ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; and other risks and factors referred to in the Company's current Form 20-F on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


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