Alimera Sciences, a venture-financed pharmaceutical firm focused on eye-related drugs, can now sell its eye anti-allergic drug Alaway over the counter.

Alimera, which is backed by Intersouth Partners and other venture capital firms, said Tuesday it had received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to change Alaway from prescription-only status.

The drug is used for the treatment of itchy eyes. It is expected to be put on sale by the spring of 2007.

Alimera filed a new drug application for Alaway earlier this year, saying a clinical study had proven the drug was the bioequivalent of a drug from Novartis called Zaditor.

"Developing Alaway, submitting the application and achieving FDA approval for a three-year-old company is, indeed, an accomplishment of which Alimera is tremendously proud," said Dan Myers, president and chief executive officer of Alimera. "The FDA’s approval of Alaway marks a milestone in Alimera’s overall strategy to consistently deliver innovative solutions to patient needs.”