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Dedication to development

Thea Pharmaceuticals is celebrating its 10th year developing eye care products throughout 2018. UK managing director, Philip Williams, tells OT  that dry eye disease is best managed in the community


How is Thea Pharmaceuticals celebrating its 10th year?

Proudly! This year, our 10 year anniversary will be marked on all of our exhibition stands. It was also marked at our opening event at Keele University Science & Business Park on 24 May. Practitioners who attended Optometry Tomorrow earlier this year will also not have been able to avoid the 600 ‘Thea at 10’ anniversary cupcakes that we shared with delegates.

What does the company hope to achieve or create with its new training suite and offices?

Our growth in the last few years has driven this move, but we also wanted to create a working atmosphere that suits our staff and our guests. Its modern and stylish interior, set within the beautiful parkland grounds of Keele University, is conducive for creative and scientific minds alike. We now have large conferencing facilities and teaching areas to use for, not just our own business purposes, but also to educate optometrists, pharmacists and ophthalmologists.

How has the company grown since its creation?

I hardly dared to imagine the growth we have achieved when I started the business in 2008 out of a small office in Macclesfield. The focus of the two staff was initially directed purely at optometrists and supporting their interests in dry eye and blepharitis. The company has now grown to a business employing over 50 people that interacts with almost all eye care providers and partners in optometry, pharmacy and ophthalmology. The product portfolio includes a wide range directed at eye health from vitamins and dry eye treatments, right though to prescription-only products used to manage glaucoma and prevent infection after cataract surgery.

"We will continue to be 100% dedicated to developing preservative-free eye care products for use within optometry and ophthalmology by bringing innovation, education and professionalism to this field"

Looking forward, what are the aims of the company?

We will continue to be 100% dedicated to developing preservative-free eye care products for use within optometry and ophthalmology by bringing innovation, education and professionalism to this field.

What are your thoughts on the profession’s view on dry eye, and what needs to be done to improve or develop this?

Our hospital partners have limited capacity going forward and consequently people with the disease will be managed better within the community. Hence, there is still a great opportunity for optometrists to develop their expertise and recognise the contribution they can make. It is important to remember that dry eye is a disease that can be diagnosed and managed, so giving it dedicated consultation time is justified.

Looking to the future, perhaps thinking of it like the management of a skin condition, such as eczema, might be more helpful looking ahead. It needs advice and care to find the best regime for symptom relief and it regularly helps to consult a professional who advises treatments free from preservatives or other harsh ingredients such as soap.

Thea Pharmaceuticals birthday cakes

What impact has DEWS II had on the profession since its publication?

As with DEWS I in 2007, it generates interest and discussion primarily, but this time around it has really helped eye care professionals connect the ocular surface and tear film as synergistic parts of the same issue. The whole system influences eye comfort, not just the tear film itself. The new report also raises awareness of the detrimental effect of preservatives in eye drops for conditions where treatment is chronic, such as dry eye and glaucoma.

What product innovation can be expected from Thea in the coming year?

There are certainly exciting products coming within the next few months, for dry eye and blepharitis, but it is too soon to say more.

What research is being carried out by Thea currently?

We are always thinking about how best to demonstrate the usefulness of Thea products for business and patients alike. Just a few months ago, we received data that demonstrates the cooling and soothing effect people experience with one of our lid cleansing products (Blephagel), plus we have recently published a paper to show how efficiencies can be made during cataract surgery with one of our mydriatic products.