Oct. 27, 2021 – People with dry eye disease have a new tool for relief after the FDA approved the first nasal spray to treat the disorder.

Used twice a day, the solution, brand name Tyrvaya, improves signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.

"We're super excited to bring a new treatment for dry eye disease to patients and eye care practitioners," Marian Macsai, MD, chief medical officer for the drug's maker, Oyster Point Pharma, says.

The company plans to make the drug available to wholesalers in November. Each bottle provides 15 days of treatment.

The drug will cost $10 or less for insured patients. Oyster Point is negotiating with insurance companies for discounts.

The drug, known as varenicline, can be prescribed for anyone with dry eye disease who has not gotten relief from artificial tears or who needs to use artificial tears "more than three or four times a day," she said.

"In our pivotal trials, we enrolled patients with mild, moderate, and severe disease," Macsai said. " So with this new route of administration and a new mechanism of action, I'm hopeful that this will provide relief to many of the dry eye patients out there that are currently suffering."

Dry eye disease can prove difficult to treat because its causes are hard to pin point. Varenicline appears to work by stimulating a nerve in the skull, causing natural tears to form.

Marketed as the oral drug Chantix by Pfizer, varenicline is prescribed to reduce cigarette cravings. Administered as a nasal spray for dry eye, much less of it ends up in the bloodstream, according to Michael Raizman , MD, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who participated in studies for the drug.

The spray acts in as little as 14 days, rather than the 3–6 months required for existing prescription drugs, and it doesn't irritate the eyes, he says.

"This approval is exciting for the ophthalmic community, as it gives us a new therapeutic agent that can be used alone or in combination with existing therapies to treat individuals who fall under the umbrella term 'dry eye,' " says Anat Galor, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and associate professor at University of Miami.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the new drug would cost $10 for uninsured patients. That price is for insured patients only.