Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Our honoree: Nancy Lurker
Title: CEO, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals
The company’s focus: EyePoint Pharmaceuticals is a commercial-stage biopharma company focused on treating serious eye disorders. The company has two approved products: Yutiq for treating uveitis and Dexycu for postoperative inflammation.
EyePoint’s lead pipeline product EYP-1901, an anti-VEGF, is being developed using the company’s Durasert technology — a miniaturized sustained delivery system — for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In August 2022, the company announced the first patient had been dosed in a phase 2 trial with top line data readout expected in the second half of 2023. Future studies are planned in non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.
Lurker’s biggest wins: Lurker has notched several key wins such as launching Plavix, a $9 billion antiplatelet drug from Bristol Myers Squibb and Sanofi; and globally launching Detrol by Pharmacia, which reached peak sales of $1 billion partially thanks to the marketing strategy of repositioning “urinary incontinence,” a hugely negative term, into “overactive bladder.” More recently, Lurker has helped EyePoint raise its market cap from $35 million to $350 million with two commercial launches, Yutiq and Dexycu. Lurker is positioning the company for a potential blockbuster opportunity with its investigational wet AMD product EYP-1901. The treatment is a potential six-month, sustained-release insert with a proven anti-VEGF that releases steadily over six to nine months.
Lurker says her goal is to fundamentally reshape how retinal disease is treated, from chronic and frequent anti-VEGF eye injections to a twice-yearly treatment for most patients while establishing a new treatment paradigm around “treat to maintain,” in which patients get treated first with standard anti-VEGFs then are maintained long term, potentially with EYP-1901.
“Lurker keeps a close pulse on the industry, and is always pushing the bar for EyePoint, constantly considering ways to improve products with the patient at heart,” one of her nominators says. “Her hard work has not gone unnoticed within the industry, even beyond her peers and employees. She was recently recognized in Healthcare Technology Report’s Top 25 Women Leaders in Medical Devices in 2022 and was a finalist in the 2019 CEO Today Healthcare Awards.”
Her impact: Lurker’s mission to improve vision care for patients is just one way she’s contributing to the industry. Colleagues say Lurker continually “inspires the best in the EyePoint teams who work alongside her. Her leadership has already resulted in a meaningful difference to the patients at the heart of the company’s mission — to prevent blindness.”
Lurker’s drive is delivering bottom-line results as well. In 2021, EyePoint’s commercial team recorded a “70% net revenue increase over 2020, despite the impact of the ongoing pandemic.”
Why she’s inspiring: Colleagues note Lurker’s “unwavering desire to improve the lives of others and deep appreciation for the science” have inspired team members to follow her as she transitioned through her career.
“The support she provides to her team and her compassionate leadership have always been a source of motivation,” one nominator says. “Lurker is very introspective, which is unique. She always asks, ‘How can I be a better leader?’ She is open to feedback, is very transparent and seeks new and innovative ways to engage talent and develop the organization’s culture. Even if it’s something she may not want to hear, she will listen and is open to feedback. [Lurker] knows that the organizational culture is key to the overall success of a company.”
Another colleague shared that Lurker leads by example. “She has been a great teacher … in how to lead with empathy, understanding individual needs and what motivates people who work for us.”
“Like an eagle — I fly high but dive down when necessary. I trust my management team to do their jobs, but when big misses occur, I will get involved in the details to help get things back on track.”
CEO, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals
Lurker is also committed to paying her success forward and is a champion for advancing women and diversity in STEM.
“She is always willing to take the time to discuss important issues pertaining to the advancement of women in the industry and share her experience,” a colleague says. “Despite her challenging schedule, [Lurker] treasures the opportunity to mentor women and in particular young, up-and-coming women.”
Another nominator notes, “Lurker has achieved impressive gains for patients, for providers, for her teams, for investors, for aspiring female executives and so many others in her time in healthcare. Yet, it is the intrinsic qualities — her passion, her commitment to her employees and so many others, and her authenticity that make her a true standout among her peers and an inspiration to us all.”
In her own words: “I value tremendously the new talent that is coming up and want them to learn from my mistakes and successes to become successful leaders going forward,” Lurker says.