Eyenovia Reinvents the Pipette Eyedropper
We’re in an era where we can edit genes to create nanobots and read people’s minds onto chips, yet some things haven’t changed much. The light bulb, the mousetrap, the hypodermic needle, and the eye dropper have all stayed the same since there isn’t any pressing need to change what already works. In the case of the eye dropper though, we might beg to differ. Nothing sucks more than sitting out in the parking lot before you go into work looking up at an eye dropper waiting for those drops to land on your eyeballs while you blink uncomfortably hoping that your boss thinks you were crying as opposed to hotboxing your car during your lunch break. Now, one company just might have engineered a replacement for the tired 100-year-old pipette eyedropper and they’re now looking at an IPO.
Founded in 2014, Florida based Eyenovia has taken in just over $4 million to develop a smart device that “uses piezo-print electronics and microfluidics to generate tiny droplets for high-precision delivery of eye therapies“. In other words, instead of looking up at that eye dropper waiting for the uncomfortable moment when the giant droplet hits your eyeball with half ending up all over your face, you can now just look right into a device that squirts a fine mist right onto your eyeball. The device can deliver micro-therapeutics to the surface of your eyeball in less than 80 milliseconds, which beats the eye’s 100 millisecond blink reflex:
When it comes to traditional eyedroppers, the whole system is flawed in numerous ways. According to Curt LaBelle of Eyenovia, one study concluded that 92% of patients who had cataract surgery incorrectly administered their eyedrops afterwards. This isn’t just about human error but also biological limitations. The tear ducts in the human eye can hold about 7 microliters of fluid, while a drop that comes out of an eyedropper contains about 50-70 microliters. So much for accurate dosing, as this means every drop contains 10X the required dosage. Then there’s the awkward way that you need to administer eyedrops, meaning someone with arthritis isn’t going to have the best time trying to hold the eyedropper and squeeze it simultaneously.
Even if a patient is taking their eyedrops as advised, physicians have no way of telling to what extent the medicine is actually being effectively administered. That’s something referred to as “compliance”, and the Eyenovia solution handles this quite elegantly. In order to use the device, the patient simply looks into a little blue light on the handheld device which is held in front of their eyeball, then presses a button, after which the exact dosage is sprayed or “printed” onto the eyeball in much the same way that an inkjet printer administers ink to paper. The particles can also be electrically charged so that they stick to the eyeball. Eyenovia’s device holds about one month of doses and uses Bluetooth to relay information back to the physician about when the patient takes their doses. This brings us to how Eyenovia plans to make money off of their device.
The business model that Eyenovia has taken is one that focuses on existing drugs that may have side effects that are less than desirable. They then develop these medications into formulas that can be used in their device so that the side effects are minimized. They’re also targeting combination drugs as well, since they can more easily control exact doses. Here’s a look at their current product pipeline:
With just 7 employees, Eyenovia plan to outsource production of the majority of their product candidates. This strategy could also lend itself to an “Intel-inside” approach which would involve licensing their device to other companies. We found at least one mention of this in their S-1 filing. A company called Senju Pharmaceutical is a Japanese biotech firm that was granted an exclusive, royalty-bearing license in 2015 for the micro-dose technology to be sold throughout Asia with 5% royalties.
Eyenovia is looking to raise about $35 million from their proposed IPO which will help fund their clinical trial pipeline on their road to commercialization and of course revenues. Although the company is opting for an IPO, they may make a compelling acquisition candidate for a company like Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). In September of 2016, JNJ bought a company called Abbott Medical Optics (AMO) for around $4.3 billion in cash. AMO is involved in cataract surgery, laser refractive surgery, and consumer eye health, and you can bet that they have a very good understanding of what their competition is getting up to.
Speaking of competition, Eyenovia believes that they are “the only company with clinical stage technology for targeted micro-dosing of ophthalmic investigational therapies“. Their S-1 filing doesn’t name any specific competitors or competitive products that should be a cause for concern in relations to their current product pipeline. Comments regarding their competitive position can be found at this link. In regards to intellectual property, they go into a great deal of length on what patents they have that protect various parts of their device which can be seen at this link. All of their key patents have expiration dates of no earlier than 2031 so that seems to be all wrapped up.
Should the IPO proceed as planned, Eyenovia plans to trade under the symbol “EYEN”.