WALTHAM, Mass.—Thea Pharma Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Europe's independent ophthalmic-focused pharmaceutical company, Laboratoires Théa, announced the launch of the Preservative Freedom Coalition to raise awareness of unmet needs in ocular surface disease and opportunities to pursue preservative-free topical ophthalmic medications. In addition to Thea, founding members of this company- and brand-agnostic initiative include: The Glaucoma Foundation, The Intrepid Eye Society, National Medical Association Ophthalmology Section and Real World Ophthalmology. Formulations in many prescription and OTC eye drops continue to include preservatives. Prolonged use of these compounds have proven negative effects to the ocular surface and some anatomical structures of the eye, with some of these occurring immediately with acute signs and symptoms, and some progressing slowly over the chronic course of therapy, the announcement said.

The Preservative Freedom Coalition will put the topic of preservative-free eyecare in focus through education to eyecare professionals and patients. This initiative aims to support eyecare professionals in understanding the benefits of choosing preservative-free options, where possible, to help preserve the health of the ocular surface.

Susan Benton, president of Thea Pharma Inc., said, "The eyecare industry has a long history of using preservatives in eye drops that persists to this day. The Preservative Freedom Coalition will help spark national dialogue about the need to break through our apathy and indifference, with respect to preservatives, and change habits while continuing to keep our patients' eyecare as the highest priority.

"The Preservative Freedom Coalition is composed of stakeholders from across the industry who share a common goal of improving patient outcomes and ensuring access to safe and effective preservative-free treatment options. We believe that working together will enable us to achieve greater success and better overall patient satisfaction. We look forward to working with the coalition members to make a preservative-free future a reality," she said.

The Preservative Freedom Coalition will focus on three key areas:

Awareness: Jointly educating on the benefits of preservative-free medications, where possible, to health care professionals, patients and the broader healthcare community, with the goal of increasing awareness of the need to protect the ocular surface.

Availability: Collaborating to help ensure that preservative-free medications are widely available to patients by identifying and addressing barriers to distribution and promoting fair and equitable access.

Advocacy: Advocating for policies that support a future that puts preservative-free first, where possible, with the aim of creating a more favorable regulatory and reimbursement environment in the future.

"As medical professionals, we are the caretakers of eye health and have a responsibility to preserve and protect our patient's vision. We must all do our part to prioritize lifelong ocular health," said Aakriti Garg Shukla, MD, medical advisory board member at The Glaucoma Foundation. "The Preservative Freedom Coalition has the potential to make a significant impact on the education of the entire eyecare community and to elevate the awareness of the deleterious effect of preservatives on the ocular surface."

"Our end goal is to improve the lives of patients, especially those with a number of chronically treated ocular conditions," said Selina McGee, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO, president of The Intrepid Eye Society board of directors. "We look forward to working with colleagues across the ophthalmologic, optometric, medical and pharmaceutical communities as part of the Preservative Freedom Coalition to achieve this shared vision."

For information about Preservative Freedom, click here.