J&J buys into ReVision Optics' $55M financing round

Print 30 July 2013
Mark Hollmer, FierceMedicalDevices

ReVision Optics attracted an impressive $55 million in new equity financing from the likes of Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and a Russian investor group--a massive cash infusion that will advance its hydrogel eye implant designed to help reduce the need for reading glasses.

The California company says it will use the money primarily to propel its Raindrop Near Vision microscopic hydrogel inlay through the PMA process with the FDA. ReVision recently completed enrollment in a U.S. Investigational Device Exemption trial testing the device's safety and effectiveness in patients with presbyopia. The term describes the loss of near vision in patients as they reach middle age, at which point they typically require reading glasses.

Plans also call for using the funding to boost commercial operations internationally, executives said. In a separate part of the deal, ReVision inked a commercial supply and distribution deal with NovaMedica, a joint partnership involving both Domain Associates and Rusnano, a tech investment firm owned by the Russian government. The arrangement will help bring Raindrop to the Russian market as well as surrounding countries.

Brian Dovey, a general partner with Domain Associates, told FierceMedicalDevices that the financing is a big deal, considering so much funding is going to a late-stage company. As well, he said the NovaMedica partnership to distribute ReVision's products in Russia and Eastern Europe are a novel way to help device companies penetrate the Russian market and nearby regions.

"Domain had two ways to win," he said. "One, through the funding, and second, through having significant ownership in a brand new company [NovaMedica] in the second fastest growing market in the world."

ReVision said its inlay is designed to restore both near and intermediate vision. Implanted just under the surface of the eye in about 5 minutes, Raindrop does its job by microscopically altering the surface shape of the cornea. It is 80% water and designed to be as transparent as natural tears, so it doesn't block light that reaches the retina, the company explained.

Raindrop already has a CE Mark. CEO John Kilcoyne told us that a controlled commercial launch of the product in the European Union began about 12 months ago, and that the funding round will allow that gradual process to continue. He noted that the 50-employee company is working to ensure proper training and understanding of the technology in what is a "new market segment."

"We don't feel there is a huge need to rush," he said. "We would rather get it right."

Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. joined the round along with RusnanoMedInvest, a Rusnano subsidiary. Previous investors Canaan Partners, ProQuest Investments, InterWest Partners and Domain Associates also participated. The $55 million round includes $15 million raised in the 2013 second quarter.

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