Latanoprost Approved for First-Line Treatment of Elevated Intraocular Pressure

January 02, 2003

Medscape Staff Report

Jan. 2, 2003 -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the once-daily prescription eye drop latanoprost (Xalatan) as an initial treatment for elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) associated with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

"The first-line indication supports the use of Xalatan earlier in the treatment process," said Robert Fechtner, MD, director of the Glaucoma Division at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, in a news release from Pharmacia, the drug's manufacturer. "Effective first-line treatment becomes even more important in light of recent studies that have further emphasized the importance of early treatment. Elevated IOP represents a major risk factor for vision loss with glaucoma; the higher the level of IOP, the greater the likelihood of optic nerve damage and visual field loss."

Latanoprost was introduced in the United States in 1996 as the first prostaglandin-based IOP-lowering medication, and the FDA initially approved the medication for second-line use. The new first-line indication is supported by five-year safety data on latanoprost submitted to the FDA.

Administered once daily, latanoprost is believed to lower IOP by increasing the rate at which fluid flows out of the eye. The most commonly reported adverse effects in eyes of patients treated with latanoprost for six months in clinical studies include blurred vision, burning and stinging, eye redness, the feeling that something is in the eye, eye itching, darkening of eye color and irritation of the clear surface of the eye. Latanoprost can slowly increase the amount of brown eye color, darken eyelids and eyelashes, and increase the growth of eyelashes in the treated eye. Color changes can increase as long as latanoprost is administered; eye color changes are likely to be permanent.


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