Eye Care Entrepreneurs Continue to Succeed with Eyevance

November 04, 2021

2 minute read



Bacharach is co-director of the glaucoma division at California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, and founding partner of North Bay Eye Associates, Sonoma County, California.

Disclosures: Bacharach reports that he is a consultant/advisor for Eyevance and Santen; receives conference fees from Sun; and receives grant or research support from Santen and Sun.

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We’re all intrigued by high-performing, driven professionals who set ambitious goals and achieve them. Jerry St. Peter and Jason Werner, self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneurs,” had only just made it big with Sun Ophthalmics when they struck out on their own. Bringing together private capital and investors, the duo launched Eyevance Pharmaceuticals in 2017 and by 2019 they had a commercial team in place with territory managers and multiple products on the market. In 2020, Eyevance was acquired by Santen thanks to the great team of people and business opportunities that Eyevance developed with unparalleled efficiency.

Jason Bacharach

When Eyevance approached me at the start of the business, I already knew Jerry and Jason from my work as a researcher and consultant for Sun Pharmaceuticals. I have long been impressed with Jerry’s skills as an entrepreneur who not only has a vision but knows how to get things done. Eyevance’s success is due in part to its ability to remain customer-centric while growing. The group strategically sought input from physicians across all subspecialties of eye care, wishing to align with a target audience, build relationships, and understand the needs of physicians and their patients while championing innovative therapies.

Eyevance’s portfolio is particularly diverse for a small company, from products for rare orphan diseases to drugs with excellent track records that are unique in their properties and delivery systems. Some of them, like Tobradex ST and Flarex, are both irrefutably excellent drugs that enjoyed commercial success under the Alcon brand and have now been “reintroduced” to the US market. With the most recent approval of Zerviate, a drop form of oral Zyrtec, Eyevance boasts arguably the best-in-class H1 blocker indicated for eye allergies. Available in a multi-dose vial or a single-use vial, it has no muscaranic effect and therefore does not aggravate dry eyes. Additionally, the drop provides exceptional comfort thanks to its formulation with Hydrella, a vehicle that contains glycerin and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, and has a pH of approximately 7.0.

The Santen partnership is powerful because it combines both companies’ robust pipelines and Santen’s unparalleled scientific research and development experience. The integration is well advanced and you can feel the enthusiasm of both companies. For me, it’s a very small world because I’m also a researcher for Santen’s glaucomatous agents in development. When I saw this strategic relationship develop, I was thrilled to have connected with both companies. I believe they are more powerful as a symbiotic unit and the acquisition will only expand Eyevance’s ability to serve practices in the United States as both pipelines progress towards commercialization.

Having watched Eyevance since its debut, it was obvious to me that it would be a hit with Jerry and Jason at the helm. Seeing Eyevance taken over by a company that is proving to be a strong leader in our space is a testament to Eyevance’s portfolio and people – they have a knack for hiring dynamic people. The combination of Santen and Eyevance means a model of potency and longevity through a very untraditional accelerated growth approach. Zerviate, for example, went from NDA to market in less than 3 years, and overall Eyevance has five drugs on the market.

To be acquired and on track for continued growth with an incredibly rigorous scientific partner at Santen, well, that’s a perfect fit in my mind. I’m in love with the people in our space who excel at what they do. The uniqueness of the molecular design of the products in Eyevance’s portfolio and the efficiency with which they executed their strategy was certainly a formula for early success, and I am confident that this will continue into the future.