We featured Johnson & Johnson Vision Care in this column in November 2014. Since then, the company has experienced many changes that we felt deserved another look. To that end, I recently had the pleasure to speak with Swami Raote, Worldwide President, Vision Care.
Mr. Raote, please tell us about your company in terms of its direction.
Historically, Johnson & Johnson has focused only on contact lenses. Now, we aspire to be partners in helping patients to honor their eyes throughout their lifetime. We feel privileged every day to help eyecare professionals (ECPs) and their patients, what we call “our team,” to see better, connect better, and live their lives to the fullest. We believe that sight is undervalued and often undertreated—and that it is our responsibility to help change this.
However, our primary focus continues to be the role of ECPs. Patients and consumers come to them, and they understand what the patients’ needs are and tell their patients what care is needed.
We believe that the majority of vision problems can be prevented or treated. There are many unmet needs in eye health, and that motivated us to acquire Abbott Medical Optics. Our goal with this acquisition was to participate in a broader spectrum of eye health needs. We’ve added refractive surgery, cataract surgery, and premium intraocular lenses to the portfolio. We’ve also added care solutions for reusable contact lenses as well as over-the-counter dry eye products. The acquisition of TearScience further added diagnosis and management options for meibomian gland dysfunction. So, as a vision company, we are now offering a range of solutions from prevention to treatment.
Tell us about any new products or new developments in which Johnson & Johnson Vision is involved.
In 2017 alone, we launched three new lens designs for astigmatism. Looking forward, we’re planning to launch two new contact lens products every year all the way out to 2020. What I find particularly exciting is that the eye is the inspiration for how we design and build our products. We are also looking into patients’ lifestyle needs—including how they differ across the world—and what kind of products and solutions we should build for them.
We are developing lenses for drug delivery. The first in this category for which we will seek regulatory approval will be an anti-allergy lens. We are also looking at contact lenses that adapt to the environment and can combat bothersome light and digital eye strain. We are looking at incorporating smart device technology into contact lenses. We also want to expand our commitment to myopia control.
We plan to start using big data more rigorously and to work with ECPs to strengthen the connection between them and their patients. We hope in the future to start supporting ECPs in predicting and preventing certain diseases.
What do you feel are the most significant hurdles that need to be overcome in the contact lens field?
Consumers today are looking at solving their needs very differently. That’s why we acquired Sightbox. Sightbox reaches consumers and patients through social media, but then drives them to the ECP closest to their home or office for exams and management options. We believe that, in the future, the millennials will increasingly look at access to ECPs differently. We need to give them different access points so that we can keep driving them back to the ECPs who can give them the right options and the right fit for contact lenses, or who can detect other diseases and then drive those patients to the right physicians for the right solution. We are looking at all possible options to improve access for patients’ eyecare needs. CLS