The agreement with an unnamed pharmaceutical firm follows a flurry of deals with Novartis, Hikma, Sanofi and Astra Zeneca’s biologics subsidiary MedImmune, which have all signed up to use Unilife’s injectable delivery systems since September.
In a $40m deal in November, Unilife agreed a 15-year supply to multinational Hikma of Unifill Nexus, its customized prefilled syringes.
Unilife CEO Alan Shortall claimed the product provides a “tenfold improvement in the precision of delivering doses” over traditional 1ml-capacity “tuberculin” syringes, and would spur greater compliance with directed dosage.
Ocu-Ject injects drugs into the eye in quantities as low as ten microliters (uL) and up to 500 uL.
The device is designed to deliver drugs to the eye to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular oedema and uveitis, all diseases which can compromise sight.
Unilife said the product has “a level of accuracy and precision not possible with conventional syringes,” and avoids under- and over-dosing.
Over-dosing injectable eye medicines brings the risk of increased intraocular pressure and damage to the optic nerve, while under-medicating compromises clinical efficacy.
Unilife’s CEO said Ocu-ject represented a new category of drug-delivery device, and the partnership would address unmet needs in the pharmaceutical industry for eye disorders.
“Ocu-ject represents a game-changing delivery technology for ocular therapies, which is a large, fast-growing segment of the pharmaceutical market,” said Shortall.
The syringes are customizable, and can be manufactured pre-filled, and with attachable or automatically retractable needles, or for use with a drug vial.
In addition to this first contract, several other pharmaceutical companies had expressed interest in Ocu-ject, said the CEO, as a delivery system for both existing and pipeline eye drugs.
As well as intraocular delivery systems, Unilife’s manufactures wearable injectors which release drugs over a period of time, auto-injectors, and drug reconstitution syringes.