CANDID CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN OPHTHALMIC OFFICE’S RICHARD KIRKNER AND LEADING OPTICAL EXECUTIVES ABOUT THEIR PRODUCT STRATEGIES.
RICHARD KIRKNER: What’s the update on AMO’s initiative to strengthen its outreach to optometry?
JAMES MAZZO: I’d use the phrase “We’re back” for optometry in the U.S. We’re going to strengthen our whole product portfolio. Over the last 18 months, with the addition of blink® Tears for dry eyes and RevitaLens OcuTec™ multipurpose disinfecting solution, we now have a product line that can clearly differentiate us from the competition. We’re also re-investing in optometry schools.
RK: How has AMO approached product development for its solutions business in light of the well-publicized adverse events a few years ago?JM: After ours and a competitor’s recall, along with heightened awareness by the FDA, we realized the next contact lens care product lines must be more effective, especially in the area of disinfection. More so, they would have to ensure that proper
patient compliance was not necessarily a requirement for the effective disinfection of contact lenses. So we created an alliance with Professor Brien Holden’s Institute for Eye Research in Australia exclusively for solutions. We started this development by utilizing as much external support as internal support.
We have very strong advisory panels with some of the leading optometrists in the U.S. guiding us on what types of products we need to have. We also employ four optom-etrists, some of whom are in R&D. In addition, we hired Simon Kilvington, PhD, who is an expert in the area of acanthamoeba.
RK: What can you tell me about AMO’s R&D efforts?JM: We’ll spend on average 7.5% to 8% of our revenue in R&D across all three product lines—corneal, LASIK, and cataract. From 2008 to 2010, we launched 19 new products and/or line extensions. From the IntraLase™ LASIK platform to the TECNIS® multifocal IOL to RevitaLens OcuTec, all of our products have been built from our strong R&D engines.
AMO is launching 20 new products between now and 2014. We’re now also exploring Abbott’s many R&D networks that are strong from the standpoint of compounds and scale to help us look at further accelerating R&D projects at AMO.
RK: How does optometry factor into product development in the medical optics division?JM: Optometry is an extremely valuable resource to us. Our optometric advisory panels give input into our refractive and cataract franchises as well. They’re a tremendous asset in dealing with patients who have had cataract and LASIK surgery.
RK: Where is R&D headed in the future?
JM: There are still a lot of unmet needs, such as dry eye. Devices will be the area where you’ll see greatest expansion. If you think about our problems today in retina, drugs are somewhat inefficient. The way to increase that efficiency is through delivery, being able to put something in the back of eye to release the drug. This is something we could leverage with Abbott because Abbott is the leader in drug-eluting coronary stents. We’re thinking about utilizing that technology in the retinal arena.
In cataract, we’re seeing refractive IOLs, such as the TECHNIS multifocal, but we also will be introducing our Synchrony accommodating IOL in the U.S. We have lenses now that not only get rid of the cataract, but we can also work on spectacle dependency by either reducing or eliminating them in patients who don’t want to wear glasses.