Drug-delivering contact lens approved for use in the US

Over the years there have been many interesting studies and research prototypes demonstrating how contact lenses could one day be used for much more than correcting vision, and the delivery of medication is one of the more promising possibilities. A new approval from the FDA has brought this future a step closer, clearing the way for local use of the world’s first drug-delivering contact lens.

The new contact lens was developed by Johnson & Johnson as a way of treating ocular itch resulting from allergies. While eye drops are available to treat this type of irritation, the company is looking to offer a more convenient solution by having the contact lens treat the symptoms all on its own.

Called Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen, the contact lens is loaded with 19 micrograms of the common antihistamine ketotifen. This built-in allergy medication is slowly released, beginning to act on itchy eyes within minutes, and is said to offer long-lasting relief for up to 12 hours. Like typical daily contact lenses, they are designed to be disposed of after a day of use.

The efficacy and safety of the contact lens was demonstrated in recent Phase 3 clinical studies, leading the FDA to approve the technology as the first in its category. This follows similar regulatory approvals from Canada and Japan’s health authorities last year.

“Ocular allergic itch in contact lens wearers may soon be an issue of the past thanks to the decision of the FDA in approving Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen,” said Brian Pall, Director of Clinical Science, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. “These new lenses may help keep more people in contact lenses, since they relieve allergic eye itch for up to 12 hours, without the need for allergy drops, and provide vision correction.”