PHARMACY

Study suggests contact lenses improve kids’ self esteem

BY Allison Cerra

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Sometimes a little boost of confidence is all kids need, but where it comes from, a Johnson & Johnson study said, may surprise some.

The newly published study shows that how children and teenagers feel about their appearance significantly improves when they wear contact lenses instead of eyeglasses.

Study investigators reported that the quality of life improvement measures follow a switch from glasses to contacts in children eight to 12 years of age. Researchers pointed out that children at this age should be provided with the option of being fitted for the alternate vision correction (contacts).

Researchers reported the results of the study in the November issue of Eye & Contact Lens, the official publication of the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists.

“This research demonstrates that both children and teens derive a number of quality of life benefits from contact lenses, which leads to greater satisfaction with their vision correction,” said Jeffrey Walline of the Ohio State University College of Optometry and leader of The Contact Lens in Pediatrics study.

Teenagers are frequently fitted with contact lenses to correct refractive errors by eye care practitioners, but children younger than 13 are generally not given the option of contact lens wear, often because eye care practitioners or parents believe that children don’t have the maturity to properly care for them.

The study investigators said, however, that the benefits of providing the option were quite apparent. “Contact lenses often provide a more convenient mode of correction for young wearers, and this study demonstrates that both children and teens can adapt to contact lens wear and derive similar benefits,” added Mary Lou French, a private practitioner in Orland Park, Ill. “With a wide variety of contact lenses available, eye care practitioners can work with young patients and their parents to determine what modality best fits each child’s personality, maturity and lifestyle.”

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Millenium takes a long-term view on expansion

BY Allison Cerra

BOSTON Biotechnology company Millennium Pharmaceuticals said that it has taken a less intense approach to bidding for experimental drugs, Reuters reported.

Millennium, which makes cancer drug Velcade, said Thursday that although its shareholders keep it on a longer leash, it will not destroy its focus on the value of the company, rather than trying to expand when it is impossible or unnecessary. “One of our strategies is to look outside to accelerate growth,” said Deborah Dunsire, Millennium’s chief executive, at the Reuters Health Summit in New York. “But our larger shareholders want us to stay religiously focused on being able to return value after we’ve paid for the assets.”

Last year’s bidding war with fellow biotechnology company Genzyme Corp. caused Millennium to intently concentrate on other things, including its pipeline of experimental products and its partnerships.

Meanwhile, Dunsire said the company has talked to several potential partners about MLN1202, its experimental antibody designed to reduce a protein that evidence suggests is related to coronary artery disease. While there no solid proof that elevated C-reactive protein directly contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, Dunsire said, the Food and Drug Administration would not approve the drug just because it reduces the protein.

Other companies involved in developing drugs for cardiovascular disease, however, could find it a very valuable tool and potentially a product in its own right. “We have taken this forward to determine whether it is an interesting avenue to explore,” Dunsire told Reuters.

For now, the company is expanding sales of Velcade, which is being tested in multiple combinations to determine its function when pooled with other drugs, Dunsire said. “We’re very optimistic we’ll get good growth in 2008. We’ve never looked at this as a zero-sum game.”

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J&J combats slow sales with creation of three units

BY Drew Buono

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Johnson & Johnson will create three new units to combat its recent lagging sales, according to the Associated Press.

The three new units are: an office of strategy and growth to identify new opportunities; a surgical care group to focus on technology and services to improve patient care; and a comprehensive care group which will treat chronic and pervasive conditions. The office of strategy and growth is one of they key areas, as the company reported a decline in profit recently.

Nicholas Valeriani, the worldwide chairman for medical devices and diagnostics will lead the strategy and growth office. Sherilyn McCoy, the chairwoman for Ethicon, a medical device company, will be the worldwide chairwoman of surgical care and will become a member of the executive committee. Donald Casey, group chairman for the diabetes franchise, will become worldwide chairman of the comprehensive care unit and will join the executive committee.

“We have the know-how across our pharmaceutical, biologics, devices, diagnostics and consumer businesses to bring completely new solutions to market,” chief executive William Weldon said in a statement.

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