Public Release: 

Survey reveals needs of glaucoma patients across Europe

Results call for more education and convenient medicines

Ketchum UK

London, England [25 June, 2002] - The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) today urged eye specialists around Europe to re-think the way they assess the needs of glaucoma patients in order to improve the long-term management of the disease and help preserve the sight of hundreds of thousands of patients. The IGA recommendations were based on the results of a recent survey of 243 glaucoma patients using multiple medications and 250 physicians from France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The survey found a significant number of glaucoma patients experienced difficulties when taking multiple medications, indicating a need for better education about the disease and its treatment options.

Nearly a third of surveyed patients on multiple glaucoma therapies reported challenges with the use of their multi-therapies. These challenges included missing scheduled dosing (33 percent missed taking medication within past 30 days) and not waiting a sufficient amount of time between applications of different medicines, both of which can adversely affect the effectiveness of the medicines and potentially impact clinical outcomes.

Physicians typically advise patients to wait 5 to 10 minutes between administrations of different eye drops to ensure that the first medication has sufficient time to be absorbed before the second medication is applied. The survey found that 17 percent of patients applying multiple medications wait two minutes or less between doses.

"The survey very clearly shows that many glaucoma patients are not fully compliant with their eye drop medicines, and that concerns those of us committed to preserving the vision of glaucoma patients," commented David Wright, Chief Executive of the International Glaucoma Association. "The results speak to the need for more education of the patients by the medical community and patient groups such as IGA. Effective fixed combination medications would also enhance convenience, particularly for patients who have difficulty taking multiple medications."

Physicians see patient compliance as an issue, according to the survey of physicians, 93 percent reported that at least some of their patients do not comply satisfactorily with their instructions regarding treatment. Nine of ten physicians agreed that effective once-daily dosing of glaucoma medication might lead to better compliance than eye drops taken twice or three-times daily. More than 90 percent also agreed that a single eye drop therapy might lead to better compliance than a multi-drop regimen taken two or three times daily.

Patients in the survey also expressed broad support for once-a-day treatment. Seventy-two percent of patients dosed more than once per day would prefer to take their medication once a day. In addition, 77 percent of patients would prefer to have both/all of their glaucoma eye drops in a single drop, if they had a choice.

"The survey clearly show that ophthalmologists across Europe need to listen and respond to the needs of their glaucoma patients - 40 percent of whom require more than monotherapy according to physicians participating in the survey," suggested Professor Roger Hitchings, International Glaucoma Association Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies, President, European Glaucoma Society. "Communication and education are the keys to successfully managing glaucoma and, together with effective treatment options, can help improve compliance and vision outcomes."

According to the survey, physicians' number one choice of unfixed combinations is latanoprost plus timolol (35% of physicians), followed by dorzolamide and timolol (12%) as the favourite agents to combine when treating patients needing multiple medications. In Europe, Pharmacia recently began introducing XALACOM™ (latanoprost/timolol maleate), a new once daily, fixed combination of latanoprost (XALATAN® ophthalmic solution) and timolol.

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To date, XALACOM has been approved in the UK, Norway, Ireland, Hungary, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria, Venezuela, and Mexico. In the EU XALACOM is indicated for the reduction of intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with open angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension who are insufficiently responsive to topical beta-blockers. The most frequently reported adverse events with XALACOM in clinical trials were eye irritation, eye redness, changes to the clear surface that covers the front of the eye, inflammation of the membrane that covers the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid, eyelid inflammation, eye pain, headache, and skin rash.

Darkening, thickening and lengthening of eye lashes and darkening of eye color (increase in the amount of brown color) were also noted; changes in eye color may be permanent.

Pharmacia Corporation is a top-tier global pharmaceutical company with a leading agricultural subsidiary. Pharmacia's innovative medicines and other products save lives and enhance health and wellness. Pharmacia's 59,000 people work together with many diverse stakeholders to bring these benefits to people around the world, and to create new health solutions for the future.

WORKING TO SAVESIGHT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD: The International Glaucoma Association is a Registered Charity No: 274681 and is dependant on donations from its members and friends to be able to provide its service across the world. The Association does not receive any support from the government or statutory bodies. Web site: http://www.iga.org.uk

XALACOM® is a registered trademark of Pharmacia Corporation in the UK.
XALACOM™ is a select trademark of Pharmacia Corporation outside the UK.
XALATAN® is a registered trademark of Pharmacia Corporation.
Websites: www.pharmacia.com, www.xalatan.com and http://www.myhealthyeyes.com

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