On March 1, 2021 Aequus Pharmaceuticals (AQS.V) announced the commercial availability of Evolve preservative free lubricating eye drops for dry eye care.
The products will be available exclusively for sale by eye care clinics in Canada, where patients can receive the full benefit of dry eye treatment plans when they are diagnosed, prescribed, and monitored by eye care professionals.
Aequus is a $24 million pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing high quality, differentiated products.
AQS is building a Canadian commercial platform through its own development pipeline and through license-acquisition.
Dry Eye Disease (DED) is a common disorder of the tear film that leads to ocular surface damage over time, it affects approximately 6.3 million Canadians.
Home confinement, e-learning and working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic means spending more time looking at screens, which has a significant impact on eye health.
A combination of reduced frequency and intensity of blinking during screen time increases the risk of inducing or exacerbating dry eye disease.
“These premium formulations – ‘Intensive Daily’ drops, contain the gold standard 0.2% sodium hyaluronate”.
Sodium hyaluronate is hydrophilic, meaning it easily mixes with water.
When applied topically, it attracts moisture in skin cells.
“AQS’s triple action ‘Intensive Gel’ drops also contain hyaluronate, carbomer 980 and glycerol – will provide soothing hydration and symptom relief for patients with dry eye disease,” stated AQS.
In general, two objects that repetitively move against each (chain/sprocket, piston/cylinder, eyeball/socket) need to be lubricated to avoid degradation of the contacting surfaces.
Bicycles use chain-oil, internal combustion engines use 10W30.
A healthy eye lubricates itself by producing tears at a slow and steady rate, keeping itself moist and pain-free.
A person suffering from Dry Eye Disease (DED) may be experiencing hormonal changes, side effects from medication or some other factor, causing the eye to either – not produce enough tears, or omit parts of the tear that promote lubrication.
If you are one of those people, you know that DED can be a form of torture.
“Guys this quite depressing and pls help me out It’s been 2 days I have started seeing rainbow rings and starburst on lights,” states one sufferer on DED forum.
“Could someone please put me out of this misery and tell me how to find affordable relief?” asks another DED sufferer, “I can barely keep my eyes open and I’m in the middle of nursing school. I’m desperate!”
The Evolve line of dry eye products “will not only improve treatment and compliance for better patient outcomes but create an improved revenue stream for professionals who spend additional time and resources treating dry eye patients in practice,” states Grant Larsen, Chief Commercial Officer for Aequus Pharmaceuticals. “This launch adds another 2 products to our growing Eye Care portfolio and represents a significant revenue opportunity for Aequus going forward.”
The Evolve lubricating eye drops are crafted specifically for supporting optimal eye care and contain:
- Preservative and phosphate free formulations
- A secure antimicrobial twist-cap
- Compatibility with soft and hard contact lenses
- 350+ micro-sized drops per bottle – the highest number of drops on the market
- Non-blurring formulations
- Patented PureFlowTM Technology, and blue aiming tip
- Soft sides for easy drop dispensing
On February 26, 2021, AQS announced that it intends to complete a financing of 6.67 million units at a price of $0.15 each to raise $1 million as part of a direct equity investment by Marc Lustig, who will join the AQS’s board of directors.
“I have worked with Marc on a number of successful projects over the years and we are delighted to add such an experienced and talented director,” stated Aequus chairman and CEO Doug Janzen.
On November 20, 2020 Equity Guru’s Chris Parry spoke with Janzen about the business objectives of the company.
“We look at products that are approved in the US or approved in Europe,” explains Janzen, “So they’re already on market, and we bridge them into Canada.”
“Wall Street did not wake up today, wondering where that next $6 million Canadian product is,” added Janzen, “Pfizer probably spent $6 million in coffee already, at this point of the day. If we can generate 6 million revenue, the margins on that could be 80%, that’s a good business. You cobble four or five of those together, you now have a profitable business”.
“We have a good presence in ophthalmology, we have good relationships with the clinicians in that space. We’re achieving economies of scale, because we have multiple products that service their needs.”
Three years ago, “a well-known glaucoma specialist in Toronto told me, ‘If you could give me a preservative free, single, multi-dose bottle, I would use that version’. We listened. This is how we do our business. We listen to clinicians.”
“We went out and we found a company in the UK, that makes a big line of preservative free eye care products, and delivers them and easy to use multi dose bottles”.
“We are growing to the point where we can self-fund more and more of our projects. We prefer to grow with a really strong market as our partner. But we are getting to that spot where we think we can grow regardless of what our share price does. And over time, value gets recognized.”
Launched in 2015 in Europe, the Evolve brand has grown to 5 products across 35 countries. With an array of products, the brand can address the various symptoms involved with dry eye disease and blepharitis including discomfort, stinging, burning, and dryness.
Currently in Canada, the dry eye market is estimated at over $90 million, which includes both prescription and over-the-counter products.
By 7:20 a.m. Vancouver time, AQS shares are up 11% to an all-time high of .24.
- Lukas Kane
Full Disclosure: Aequus Pharmaceuticals is an Equity Guru marketing client