Johnson and Johnson’s Vision Care unit has received FDA approval for its Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen, a drug-eluting contact lens that could eliminate the need for eyedrops for contact lens wearers suffering from allergic eye itch. This approval comes almost a year after the lens was approved for use by the Japanese Ministry of Health.

In an interview with MD+DI, Brian Pall, Director of Clinical Science at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, expressed the high demand for the product. He explained that the popularity of the lens is due to its intuitive and logical design. Currently, 40% of contact lens wearers experience itchy-allergy-eyes, and about 80% of them express frustration with this issue, which greatly impacts their quality of life.

Each lens contains 19 mcg of ketotifen, a well-established antihistamine. The vision care unit collaborated with J&J’s Janssen for the antihistamine component. Pall emphasized that this breakthrough was the result of a strong collaboration between various partners.

The FDA approval follows positive Phase 3 clinical studies published in the journal Cornea. These studies demonstrated a significant reduction in itchy allergy eyes within three minutes of lens insertion, with effects lasting up to 12 hours. However, the lenses can be worn for longer periods for vision correction.

Developing medication-releasing contact lenses has been a challenge for companies over the past 60 years. Pall explained that incorporating medication into the lens requires compatibility between the drug and contact lens material, as well as ensuring proper release of the drug when the lens is worn.

Pall also discussed the future potential of contact lenses, highlighting the ongoing pursuit of innovation to enhance and restore people’s vision. He expressed excitement about tackling difficult challenges to improve patients’ lives through contact lenses and other medical devices.

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