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Home>UPDATE: This billion-dollar dry eye drug is behind Allergan's controversial patent deal

UPDATE: This billion-dollar dry eye drug is behind Allergan's controversial patent deal

UPDATE: This billion-dollar dry eye drug is behind Allergan's controversial patent deal

10/05/2017

By Emma Court

Dry eye disease is 'one of the most common reasons people seek eye care'

For Ronit Zemel, a Washington, D.C.-based Jewish educator, the prescription medication Restasis--which she took to heal eye damage--was never affordable.

"I kept being told every time I went to the doctor's office, 'this is a constant problem,' 'look into getting it from Canada,' 'hopefully they'll get a generic,'" said 25-year-old Zemel. When she found out the drug had a $605.50 copay, "I started to tear up at the pharmacy."

Even with the help of a copay coupon, Zemel still needed financial assistance, which she got from her parents. After rationing the three-month supply of Restasis out over six months, she eventually stopped taking it, though it meant she had to give up contacts.

Yet, with her chronic condition, it's possible that Zemel will have to take Restasis again at some point--and the prospect of it getting any cheaper seems even further away.

Last month, drugmaker Allergan PLC (AGN) announced that it has made a deal with a New York state American Indian tribe to help protect Restasis from competition, using the tribe's sovereign immunity as a shield against patent challenges. The deal--the first such move by Allergan and, in the pharmaceutical industry, an unusual one at best--has unleashed a firestorm of criticism, including from lawmakers.

Read more: Allergan has made an unorthodox agreement with an American Indian tribe to fend off competition for its key product (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/allergan-has-made-an-unorthodox-agreement-with-an-american-indian-tribe-to-protect-a-drug-patent-2017-09-08)

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