Conjunctivitis is a very common type of ocular infection. Every year, it is known to affect nearly 6 million people in the U.S. alone. The prevalence of the condition varies according to the cause and is affected by the patient’s age and the season. Viral and bacterial infections are the two most common causes of conjunctivitis. Viral infection, the more common of the two causative factors of conjunctivitis, is more frequent in adults and is prevalent in summers. Bacterial infection, the second most common causative factor of conjunctivitis, causes 50-70% conjunctivitis cases in children and is prevalent during December to February.
A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) states that the average rate of occurrence of bacterial conjunctivitis in the U.S. was about 135 in every 10,000 people. The average cost spent for treating bacterial conjunctivitis alone is between US$377 million to US$857 million annually in the U.S. The study further states that a majority of bacterial conjunctivitis cases are treated by primary care physicians only. Of all the primary care medical visits in the U.S. annually, about 1% are related to conjunctivitis.
Causes and Common Solutions
Bacterial conjunctivitis is commonly caused by bacterial strains such as gonococci organisms, chlamydial, staphylococci, and streptococci. A majority of bacterial conjunctivitis cases are self-limited, with the simplest cases requiring 1 to 2 weeks to be resolved. Adherence and mattering of eyelids on waking, absence of a previous conjunctivitis incidence, and lack of itching are the most common factors associated with bacterial conjunctivitis.
Topical antibiotics are usually recommended for treating bacterial conjunctivitis cases in patients suffering from a preexisting ocular disease, with suspected allergy from gonococcal and chlamydial bacteria and symptoms such as eye pain and mucopurulent discharge. Antibiotic use allows early resolution of the condition and leads to early return to school or work.
U.S. Bacterial Conjunctivitis Drugs Market at a Glance
A variety of drug types are available in the U.S. market for curing bacterial conjunctivitis. The most commonly used include macrolides, aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, bacitracin, fusidic acid, polymyxin, and doxycycline. In the fluoroquinolones class, drugs such as besifloxacin, gatifloxacin, moxifloxacin, levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, and ofloxacin are the most popular in the market. In the aminogycosides class, drugs such as gentamycin and tobramycin are among the most popular ones. Macrolides such as erythromycin and azithromycin, and antibiotics such as doxycycline, bacitracin, fusidic acid, and polymyxin are also highly popular in the market.
The market is, however, currently dominated by fourth-generation fluoroquinolones. A research report published by Persistence Market Research states that in the U.S. market for bacterial conjunctivitis drugs, the segment of fourth-generation fluoroquinolones held a 70% share in 2013, owing to the high effectiveness of these drugs against antibiotic-resistant strains of conjunctivitis bacteria. In the near future, however, the market for fluoroquinolones is expected to decline owing to imminent patent expiration of some of the most popular formulations such as Besivance, Moxeza, and Vigamox, and the rising influx of generic formulations.