Johnson and Johnson’s Vision Care unit has received FDA approval for its Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen, a drug-eluting contact lens that could potentially 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 drug-eluting 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 significantly 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, highlighting the importance of strong partnerships in achieving breakthrough innovations.

The FDA approval follows positive Phase 3 clinical studies published in the journal Cornea. These studies demonstrated a significant reduction in itchy allergy eyes as quickly as three minutes after lens insertion, with effects lasting up to 12 hours. It should be noted that the lenses can be worn for longer than 12 hours for vision correction purposes.

Developing medication-releasing contact lenses has been a challenge for companies over the past 60 years, with many unsuccessful attempts. Pall explained that one of the main challenges is finding the right combination of medication and contact lens material that are chemically compatible and allow for proper drug release.

Looking ahead, Pall emphasized the potential for future innovations in contact lenses. While not referring to any specific project, he expressed excitement about enhancing and restoring people’s vision through continued innovation in contact lenses and other medical devices.

Johnson and Johnson’s FDA approval for its drug-eluting contact lens marks a significant advancement in the field and offers hope for contact lens wearers suffering from allergic eye itch. With further research and development, the possibilities for improving patients’ lives through contact lenses and other medical devices are promising.

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