Restasis®, a topical treatment to remedy chronic dry eye disorder, was named one of the top “University Innovations That Changed the World” by the University of Virginia Patent Foundation. Originally developed as Optimmune® by Dr. Renee Kaswan in conjunction with The University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF) for the treatment of the disorder in canines, the drug was adapted and tested for human use, received FDA approval and was brought to market by Allergan in 2003.
As the most profitable and well-renowned invention to emerge from the University of Georgia (UGA), Restasis® has become a subject of litigation and controversy. Under the University's original contracts with Allergan, UGA would have realized an estimated $300 million in royalties from the drug's licensed sales. However, in secret meetings with the pharmaceutical firm, excluding the inventor, the University agreed to a buy-down deal at a small fraction of that price.
Optimmune® is licensed solely to Dr. Kaswan, but nonetheless, the University of Georgia and the University of Georgia Research Foundation has filed multiple nuisance suits against the researcher and all but one minor claim were dismissed on summary judgment in her favor. The remaining claim is under appeal by Dr. Kaswan, who maintains that it is erroneous.