Visioneering Technologies Limited (ASX:VTI) CEO and Executive Director, Dr Stephen Snowdy, discusses the company's FY17 results.
Jessica Amir: Hi. I’m Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network. Joining me now over the phone from medical device company Visioneering Technologies (ASX:VTI) is CEO and Executive Director Dr Stephen Snowdy. Stephen, welcome back and thanks for joining us.
Dr Stephen Snowdy: Well, thank you very much.
Jessica Amir: First up, just remind us what Visioneering Technologies does.
Dr Stephen Snowdy: Visioneering is in the business of contact lenses, and not just any contact lenses. We sell daily disposable soft contact lenses that address two very common but under-solved eye issues.
One of those is a disease called presbyopia, and these are people who are over the age of 40 and have started to lose the ability to see things up close. And unfortunately almost everyone over the age of 45 is presbyopic, and running into problems doing things like reading menus at restaurants or seeing the text on their phones. And our lenses provide them with excellent near and distance vision simultaneously.
The other disease that we’re after with our contact lenses, our lenses are being used for something called paediatric myopia, or near-sightedness in children. These children have difficulty seeing things that are distant, such as a chalkboard in a classroom or maybe a ball during sports. And paediatric myopia or near-sightedness in children is a progressive disease. And it affects about a third of children in the United States, and up to 90 per cent of children in some Asian countries. And it’s correlated, unfortunately, with a lifetime risk of some very serious ocular diseases that can lead to blindness. And so stopping the progression of paediatric near-sightedness is very important. And that's something that our lenses have been shown to do.
Daily disposable contacts for presbyopia and paediatric myopia are around a $5 billion addressable market opportunity, just in the US alone.
Jessica Amir: Now to your FY17 results, what were the highlights?
Dr Stephen Snowdy: We accomplished some key things towards our future growth in 2017. We started the year with five territory managers, or sales reps. We finished the year with 25, so quite a bit of growth in our sales capacity. We also grew the manufacturing capacity quite a bit to support those sales people. We saw some data published in 2017, and it’s very exciting, peer-reviewed journal, demonstrating 96 per cent reduction in the rate of myopia progression in children wearing our lenses, which will be very important for us in the future.
Lastly, we saw a laying of the groundwork for international expansion with the filing of the CE Mark. CE Mark will allow us, once awarded, to launch our products in Europe and some other countries that allow expedited price processes, from a regulatory perspective, for companies with the CE Mark. And so we’ll see some expansion internationally in 2018 with that groundwork having been laid, and the data having been published. Financially, we turned in a million-dollar year for 2017, which we’re very proud of, as it was our first partial year as a public company. And we saw some very rapid growth in the number of users of our products, from just over 100 to over 700 users, at the end of 2017. So, quite a bit of growth there as well.
Jessica Amir: Well done. Definitely ticking a lot of boxes. Now, moving to your portfolio, just give us an update on your two product line extensions?
Dr Stephen Snowdy: We have a couple of product line extensions that we’re looking at for 2018 and 2019. In 2018, we’re expecting to see the launch of our Toric lenses. These are lenses for people with astigmatism. And in 2019, we’re looking at the launch of a revolutionary product. This is a Toric multifocal contact lens. And this will be for people with both astigmatism and presbyopia, or for children who are progressive myopia candidates and also have astigmatism.
Jessica Amir: Now, Stephen, can you talk to us about the response from optometrists and clinics, and general awareness about your lenses?
Dr Stephen Snowdy: Yeah, we’ve seen quite a bit of growth and awareness of our products. That's stemming from a couple of different things. One of those is just the peer-to-peer education process that occurs as the company gets bigger, the sales force gets bigger, we start penetrating more and more accounts. And also with the data that was published in October showing the effect of our lenses in reducing the progression of myopia in children, we’ve started to receive a lot of inbound requests for our product, due to that data. So, pretty exciting incoming requests for our product at this point, and very happy with what we’ve accomplished in 2017 in that regard.
Jessica Amir: Last question now, Stephen. What’s the goal for the next six months?
Dr Stephen Snowdy: As many of the investors are probably aware, we were just awarded our CE Mark, which does open the gate for us to launch products in Europe and some other countries. And so one of the exciting things you should see from us over the next few months are the first or initial international sales of our products. And also, as we get into the year a little bit further, you’ll see further growth of our sales force as we start adding additional territory managers to the current roster. And later in the year, we expect again to see the launch of the Toric lens and preparation for the Toric multifocal, early in 2019.
Jessica Amir: Well, Dr Stephen Snowdy, thank you so much for the update, and well done on achieving a lot of milestones.
Dr Stephen Snowdy: OK, thanks, bye-bye.
Disclaimer: This information describes uses that have not been approved or cleared by the FDA for use in the United States.