Article Date: 6/1/2001

Drug Reference
2001:The Year of Glaucoma
Our patients will benefit from these safer, more effective drugs.
By Jimmy Bartlett, O.D., F.A.A.O., Birmingham, Ala.

It's exciting to see new and improved medications to treat our patients who have ocular allergies and infections (see "Allergy and Infection Update"), but it's equally gratifying to see the tremendous advances in the development of ocular hypotensive agents to treat glaucoma.

Several new glaucoma drugs were introduced in early 2001, and we're happy to add them to our Pocket-Sized Ophthalmic Drug Guide, which you can request by calling Todd Galles, 707.256.1412, at Santen. Here's a brief rundown of these new drugs:

And watch for the following drugs. They're FDA-approved and awaiting official launch:

Safer and more effective

Clearly, we can see that our glaucoma practices will change with the times as more effective and less toxic medications become available.

Long gone are the days when we had to use beta-blockers as first-line therapy for patients.

Now, we can offer our patients once- or twice-daily dosing with medications that are usually quite effective in reducing IOP --and these medications have more easily managed adverse-effect profiles.

Surely, our patients will be the ultimate beneficiaries of these advances in glaucoma. 

Dr. Bartlett is interim chair at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Optometry. He's also a professor of optometry at UAB School of Optometry and is a professor of pharmacology at the UAB School of Medicine.


Allergy and Infection Update

During the last year or two, we've seen a number of important new anti-allergy drugs approved for ophthalmic use. One notable entry is Santen Inc.'s mast cell inhibitor, pemirolast potassium (Alamast), which is commercially formulated as a 0.1% solution.

You can use pemirolast prophylactically like other mast cell inhibitors to reduce signs and symptoms of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. It's been shown to be quite safe and virtually nontoxic to the cornea and conjunctival tissues when used long term. A typical dosage is 1 to 2 drops four times daily.

During the past year, a new fluoroquinolone was approved for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis. Levofloxacin 0.5% (Quixin), also from Santen, Inc., may have advantages over existing quinolones because it's highly soluble and more effective against Streptococcus species. The recommended dosage is 1 to 2 drops every 2 hours while awake for the first 2 days and then every 4 hours while awake up to four times daily.

Optometric Management, Issue: June 2001