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. The New Brunswick, NJ-based company’s lens goes beyond the capabilities of traditional eyewear and contains 19 mcg of ketotifen, a well-established antihistamine. This breakthrough comes almost a year after the product was approved for use by the Japanese Ministry of Health.

In an interview with MD+DI, Brian Pall, OD, MS, FAAO, Director of Clinical Science at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, expressed the high demand for the product. He explained that 40% of contact lens wearers currently experience itchy-allergy-eyes, and approximately 80% of them feel frustrated by this issue. Pall emphasized the impact on their quality of life and their ability to do the things they want to do.

The development of medication-releasing contact lenses has been a challenge for many companies over the past 60 years. Pall highlighted the difficulties in incorporating medication into the lens and ensuring compatibility between the drug and contact lens material. However, Johnson and Johnson’s collaboration with Janssen and other strategic partners has resulted in this breakthrough.

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. It is important to note that the lenses can be worn for longer than 12 hours for vision correction.

Looking ahead, Pall discussed the potential of contact lenses in the future. While not referring to any specific project, he expressed excitement about bringing innovation to enhance and restore people’s vision. He emphasized the importance of finding solutions to make patients’ lives better through contact lenses and other medical devices.

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