Healthcare research is laying the groundwork for drug technology that has never been seen before. By improving product efficacy and safety, as well as patient convenience and compliance, drugs are becoming more sophisticated with every passing year.

Novel drug delivery technologies must overcome many obstacles including frequency of administration, drug resistance, and patient changes in cellular processes over time. Despite the difficulties, these delivery systems are being advanced all the time by a variety of healthcare companies, with each moving along at varying rates. Being conscious of which companies are successful in capitalizing on innovative ways to administer drugs could be extremely important to future growth for your portfolio. These four stocks are leading the way in these exact advancements.

A doctor giving a patient an eye exam

Image Source: Getty Image

Staying focused on what matters

EyePoint Pharmaceuticals (EYPT 2.90%) is one company that has successfully had many drugs approved. Its Durasert is a miniaturized, injectable, sustained-release microinsert that treats a list of ailments. EyePoint also boasts Verisome technology in its portfolio, which is a gradually degrading liquid-gel formulation designed to last up to one year and is currently being used in cataract surgeries to completely eliminate postoperative inflammation drop regimens.

Healthcare investors would do well to look beyond the drug and what it treats, to also notice the potential of its delivery technology. Drug companies are not just creating new drugs for the untreatable, but they are also perfecting new methods themselves that can have a ton to do with how it triumphs in the market.

Kala Therapeutics' (KALA 2.09%) has made advancements in mucus-penetration, recently launching an inflammation treating eye drop that replaces the standard treatment of care from up to 70 drops per month to less than 15.

Ocular Therapeutics (OCUL 6.86%) saw its proprietary tear duct insert using hydrogel technology approved on June 21 for inflammation and pain following ocular surgery-a huge progression for drug delivery technology.

Six months leading to Yutiq's FDA approval, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals' drug that utilizes its Durasert technology to treat chronic non-infectious uveitis affecting the posterior segment of the eye, saw its stock price gain more than 124%, reaching $3.54 per share. Dextenza, which is Ocular Therapeutics' tear duct insert, nudged its stock price 19% higher in that same timespan.

Don't lose sight of the big picture

Although the U.S. is the leader in most healthcare sectors, it's beneficial to step back and see what other plays are being made by the international community. The global ophthalmic drug market size was valued at more than $30 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5% by 2026, according to A Data Book: Healthcare spending and the Medicare program, and the world's largest healthcare companies are already responding to this growth. This year, Novartis (NVS 1.08%) announced the spin-off of its eye division Alcon (ALC 2.59%), creating a separate stand-alone publicly traded company allowing shareholders to benefit by focusing on each of the company's specific pipelines, including Alcon's stronghold on its eye-oriented pipeline. 

Combined with the swelling aging population in the U.S and the 44.57 million Medicare recipients over the age of 65, it's obvious that eye treatment drugs and their delivery systems are becoming exceedingly important and a focal point for any healthcare investor's watchlist. Since a large portion of ophthalmology patients are Medicare beneficiaries, the market has a natural resistance to a recession, making these trends a no-brainer to recognize and follow closely.