Oculus Chief Operating Officer
As you may have recently read, we received a clearance from the FDA for our new Microcyn Dermatology HydroGel product, our first dermatology product and a terrific new opportunity for the team at Oculus.
We’ve been quizzed repeatedly the last several days for the “story” behind the new product and our push into dermatology. Bear with me for a peek behind the scenes.
As so often happens at Oculus, our new dermatology product started with a patient story. Our CEO Hoji Alimi, CFO Bob Miller, and I were visiting a pediatric burn unit listening to a plastic surgeon describe his treatment protocol for severe burns. The surgeon introduced us to a four-year-old patient, with family in tow, who had severely burned one hand, both arms and portions of his chest from an accident in front of the family fireplace. The surgeon was using our Microcyn liquid on the patient (and others in the ward) and requested that we develop a hydrating gel version of Microcyn to provide continuous contact on the burn site.
What really caught our eyes was this: The patient had both hands wrapped in gauze. As the surgeon unwrapped the burned hand, we quizzed him why both hands were wrapped if only one was burned. “Because he itches,” the surgeon replied, “and will scratch off the bandages all over his body, even in his sleep. Itch is a fierce problem.” The surgeon went on to explain that the double-hand wrap was a very common protocol in the general pediatric ward of the hospital for other type of patients, including atopic dermatitis or eczema.
Itch is a fierce problem.
As we drove away, we telephoned our R&D team, spearheaded by Dr. Bob Northey, back in California and added another to-do on an ever-growing list for the team. Hoji asked Bob to attack the gel R&D project not just from an antimicrobial barrier perspective for burn patients, but to also address the itch.
Jump to May 2009 – after 18 months and manufacturing more than 200 versions of gels, some good, some not so good, Bob and his R&D team nailed it. In May 2009, the FDA cleared our first wound care hydrogel specifically for burns and other serious wounds. No details here on how or why Bob nailed down the formulation (no trade secrets here either, this is well protected intellectual property), but even after the FDA clearance, the team continued to perfect, synthesize and work on the gel to attack the second major issue: the itch.
Itch is a fierce problem.
Jump to March 2010 – after 27 months and hundreds and hundreds of discarded bottles and tubes of various gels, Bob and team nailed it. Again. This week, the FDA cleared our new Microcyn Dermatology HydroGel to address itch and pain relief. As our recent press release indicated, this is a large new market for us, the U.S. dermatology market estimated to be multi-billion dollar in size. And the number one reason people visit their dermatologists? The general complaint of itch.
With our growing product portfolio, we want to help that family in the burn unit get home faster. We want to help that family undergoing surgical procedures to heal faster with our new post-surgical product. And we want to help those patients suffering from fierce itch to sleep well at night.
Thanks for reading this long, coffee-fueled story—but behind each patient story lies more opportunities for improved patient outcomes. That’s what drives us here at Oculus.