• By Anni Griswold
    Novartis
    Cornea/External Disease

    The prescription dry eye treatment lifitegrast (Xiidra) will change hands from Takeda to Novartis later this year, at an estimated cost of $5.3 billion. The deal includes an immediate sum of $3.4 billion, followed by potential milestone payments of up to $1.9 billion.

    “Xiidra, with its unique dual benefits, is an example of the type of innovative advances we invest in for the benefit of patients,” said Paul Hudson, CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. “We look forward to leveraging our well-established commercial infrastructure to bring this medicine to more patients.”

    The anti-inflammatory drug generated $0.4 billion of revenue in 2018, Novartis reports, and will bolster the company’s front-of-the-eye portfolio. Novartis plans to plans to hire about 400 employees associated with the drug. 

    In 2016, lifitegrast became the first prescription therapy for dry eye disease to enter the U.S. market since the launch of topical cyclosporine 0.05 % ( Restasis, Allergan) in 2003. In the intervening years, several companies had filed applications for similar dry eye dugs—including anakinra, bromfenac, diquafosol, ecabet sodium, isunakinra, rebamipide, tavilermide and tofacitinib—but none won U.S. approval.

    Lifitegrast, which was acquired by Takeda with its purchase of Shire, remains the only prescription treatment for the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.