Article Date: 2/1/2010

Novartis Seeks Merger With Alcon
NEWS spectrum

Novartis Seeks Merger With Alcon

Novartis has exercised its option to purchase the remaining shares of Alcon, Inc., from Nestlé S.A. and announced its ultimate goal of a merger with Alcon. Upon completion of the sale of the Nestlé shares, Novartis would own approximately 77 percent interest in Alcon.

If approved, a merger of the two companies would make Alcon a part of a new eyecare division of Novartis that would include Ciba Vision. The merger would require two-thirds approval by the shareholders of Novartis and Alcon voting at their respective meetings and is also subject to the regulations of Swiss merger law.

Under the terms of the merger proposal, holders of the approximately 23 percent of Alcon shares that are publicly traded would receive 2.8 Novartis shares for each Alcon share. Based on the Novartis share price and U.S. dollar/Swiss franc exchange rates prior to the announcement, this would value each publicly traded share of Alcon at approximately $153.

Minority shareholders, however, disagree with that price and have filed a class action lawsuit in New York against Alcon's board of directors, Novartis, and Nestlé saying the company set two prices for the acquisition. Novartis agreed to pay $180 per share for Nestlé's remaining stake. In a statement, the Alcon Inc. Independent Director Committee stated that based on, among other things, advice from its independent financial advisor, it had determined that the price and other terms proposed by Novartis are inadequate and that the financial analysis upon which Novartis' unilateral proposal is based is flawed. Novartis had not released an official comment at press time.

Novartis cited the benefits of a merger with Alcon saying that the company believes approximately $200 million of annual pre-tax cost synergies could be generated within three years after closing through shared service agreements, collaborations, joint ventures and other business arrangements.

“The addition of Alcon will strategically strengthen our healthcare portfolio and our position in eye care, a sector with dynamic growth due to the increasing patient needs of an aging population,” said Dr. Daniel Vasella, chairman and chief executive officer of Novartis. “This is the right time to simplify Alcon's ownership to eliminate uncertainties for employees and shareholders. It will also allow us to strengthen innovation power by combining R&D efforts and grow our global market presence thanks to our complementary product portfolios.”

Those interested in getting updates on the potential merger can visit http://www.sec.gov/ or http://www.transactioninfo.com/alcon/.

Lens Dynamics and Firestone Optics Merge

Lens Dynamics Inc. and Firestone Optics Inc. have merged, effective Jan. 1. Lens Dynamics is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Firestone Optics Inc.

Al Vaske will continue in his current role as Lens Dynamics president and Kathy Vaske will continue as head of Lens Dynamics customer service. Both will continue to be based in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing of the Lens Dynamics specialty GP contact lenses will be transferred to Firestone's Kansas City, Mo., laboratory.

Firestone Optics is a privately held corporation in Kansas City, Mo. Firestone manufactures the Tangent Streak Family of lenses in addition to other specialty and GP single vision lenses. They are also an authorized distributor of all major brands of soft contact lenses.

B+L Redesigns Company Logo

Bausch + Lomb has redesigned its company logo and icon. The new logo and B+L icon will be phased in by Bausch + Lomb over time, coexisting with the former “pathways” logo for the next 18 to 24 months as product packaging and other materials are updated.

The logo and icon incorporate hues of the company's traditional blue and green colors, while introducing the plus (+) symbol to represent the organization's commitment to innovation and partnership with practitioners.

“Our new corporate identity reflects the ongoing evolution of Bausch + Lomb as we make strides in growing our business for the benefit of medical practitioners, retail partners, consumers and patients around the world,” said Gerald M. Ostrov, the company's chairman and chief executive officer.

The new corporate identity system was designed by Pentagram, the multi-disciplinary design firm.

ARBO Releases COPE Standards

In its November 2009 meeting, the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) Board of Directors approved the final timeline for the release and implementation of the new COPE Standards for Commercial Support. The Standards were released on Dec. 15, 2009. January through June 2010 will be a six-month training period, followed by a six-month implementation phase. Full compliance to the standards for all COPE-accredited CE will be required as of Jan. 1, 2011. The new Standards supplement the existing guidelines for COPE-approved administrators/providers.

Important changes include:

  1. COPE-accredited CE must be identified, developed, and presented free from the control of a commercial interest.
  2. All commercial support must be in the form of an educational grant to the COPE-approved administrator/provider documented by a signed agreement with the Corporate Supporter.
  3. There must be a clear separation of any type of product, service, and instrument or device promotion with COPE-accredited courses. All commercial exhibits and advertisements must be physically separated from COPE-accredited CE.
  4. COPE-accredited courses cannot deliver specific proprietary business interests and must give balanced coverage to treatment options.
  5. Financial relationships with commercial interests of any persons in a position to impact or control the educational content must be disclosed to the learners and to COPE.

The complete Standards are available on ARBO's Web site at www.arbo.org. Two administrator/provider training workshops for the new Standards will be held Friday, March 5, 2010 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, and on Friday, May 21, 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, GA. Visit the Web site to register.

Lockie Joins Menicon

Menicon Co., Ltd. has appointed Graham Lockie as global sales manager for Disposable Lens Products. Lockie will report to Jonathan Jacobson, Menicon's general manager, Global Strategies & Operations.

Lockie joins Menicon with nearly 20 years of experience in the soft contact lens and lens care business. He previously worked in a variety of positions with several leading companies including Allergan and the Eyecare Division of Biocompatibles Ltd. Following the acquisition of Biocompatibles Eyecare by CooperVision, Lockie joined Clearlab, the Singapore-based soft contact lens manufacturer, as global commercial director. When Clearlab's Research and Development was acquired by Menicon in 2007, Lockie left to launch his own company, acting as a commercial consultant for several optical businesses.

Menicon says that Lockie's key areas of expertise are centered around launching and developing new products and businesses as well as developing and managing distributors.

“We are pleased to welcome Graham to Menicon. His knowledge and experience will be invaluable in expanding our soft contact lens business in the global markets,” said Mr. Toshio Matsushima, senior executive officer for Menicon Co., Ltd. “His incorporation will not only contribute to increasing our existing Menicon Premio silicone hydrogel lens business, but also is part of Menicon's preparation for the launch of future advanced products such as Menicon 1Day Flat Pack in the global markets.”

“Looking at Menicon's future products, this is an exciting and challenging role, and I look forward to working with the global Menicon team to make this a success,” said Mr. Lockie.

Industry Briefs

Alcon will purchase the rights in the United States for two FDA-approved topical eyecare products from Sirion Therapeutics. Durezol is a marketed ophthalmic corticosteroid approved for treating in flammation and pain as sociated with eye surgery. Zirgan is a recently approved antiviral for treating acute herpetic keratitis (corneal ulcers). In addition to these marketed products, Alcon also acquired the global rights, excluding Latin America, for Zyclorin, which is currently in clinical development to treat dry eye and other ocular surface diseases. The closing of this agreement is expected to occur by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Bausch + Lomb has launched its Crystalens AO, the first aberration-free accommodating in traocular lens (IOL) with aspheric optics, to cataract surgeons worldwide. The announcement follows the recent FDA approval of this newest B+L surgical product. The Crystalens AO has prolate aspheric surfaces and is designed to be free of spherical aberration. It is designed to improve retinal image quality without compromising depth of field and therefore provides greater quality of distance and intermediate vision.

Inspire Pharmaceuticals recently announced that its Phase 3 clinical trial (Trial 03113) of Prolacria (diquafosol tetrasodium ophthalmic solution) 2% for treating dry eye disease did not meet its primary endpoint (p = 0.526) or its secondary endpoint (p = 0.368). The trial evaluated Prolacria's ability to clear staining (primary end-point) or achieve a greater than or equal to two-unit reduction in staining scores in patients who had a fluorescein staining score of three in the central region of the cornea at baseline. Inspire has provided the top-line results from this trial to its partner Allergan and will conduct a thorough review of the program before determining next steps, if any.

Ista Pharmaceuticals has submitted a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) to the U.S. FDA for bromfenac ophthalmic solution dosed once-daily as a treatment for ocular inflammation and pain following cataract surgery. Ista currently markets Xibrom (bromfenac ophthalmic solution) 0.09%, which is an eye drop labeled for use twice-daily, beginning 24 hours after cataract surgery. If approved, Ista plans to market the once-daily product under the name XiDay.

■ Connect, an organization dedicated to creating and sustaining the growth of innovative technology and life sciences businesses, has named SynergEyes as the winner of its 22nd annual Most Innovative New Product (MIP) Award for 2009. SynergEyes won the award in the medical products category for its Clear-Kone hybrid contact lens design for keratoconus patients. The MIP Award finalists were selected from approximately 100 entries representing a broad range of companies within eight categories.

■ Last month the newly formed Healthy Eyes for Life Foundation changed its name to The Foundation for Eye Health Awareness. The name change occurred to prevent confusion within the optical industry and to clarify the purpose of the foundation.

Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) has reported that optometrists across the United States and Canada and around the world joined their colleagues, patients, and staff members as well as optical companies and optometry students in contributing nearly $500,000 through the World Sight Day Challenge in October. The proceeds will allow OGS to continue funding programs that ensure vision care for people in countries without access to basic eye care services.

Prevent Blindness America has elected James E. Anderson, principal at Howe, An derson & Steyer, PC, to serve as the new Board Chairperson on its national Board of Directors. George Neal, division vice president, global sales at Abbott Medical Optics and J. David Pierson, president and CEO of Refac Optical Group, were also elected to the national board.

■ Optometry's Charity – The AOA Foundation has elected Dr. Martha Rosemore Greenberg to serve as Board President beginning in January 2010. Dr. Greenberg joined the AOA Foundation Board in 2008. Her contributions to the profession of optometry span involvement at the local, state, regional, and national levels.


1-Day Moist now in 90-Packs

Vistakon recently introduced a new 90-pack for its 1-Day Acuvue Moist Brand contact lenses. The company says it has also reduced the prices of its 1-Day Acuvue Moist 30-pack and is offering a new wearer rebate specifically for 1-Day Acuvue Moist patients.

Clompus Joins CooperVision in Newly Created Role
■ CooperVision has appointed Richard Clompus, OD, FAAO, to serve in a newly created role as vice president, global professional relations within the Global Commercial Strategy team. Dr. Clompus will support clinical studies, education, and professional affairs on a worldwide basis in order to further establish CooperVision's position in the global contact lens industry.
Dr. Clompus most recently served as director of The Vision Care Institute, LLC, supporting student and doctor education in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Prior to that, he was part of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care where he held leadership positions within The Spectacle Lens Group and Vistakon.
“Richard brings a wealth of experience and technical expertise to this role,” said Jeffrey A. McLean, executive vice president, Global Commercial Strategy, CooperVision. “We look forward to his contribution as we continue to develop our professional relations strategy, clinical programs, and enhance the overall experience of our customers.”

Contamac, DAC International Reach Agreement
All technology for the Contamac BV Opteq System will be transferred to DAC International, Inc. in Carpinteria, Calif. DAC International and Opteq R&D, in turn, have agreed that DAC International will acquire the technology to allow for the design, manufacture, sales, and service of the Diatop Lathe, the proprietary blocking system, and the Calculens Software which comprise the Opteq System.
Officials from both companies said they find this arrangement meets their respective companies' long term goals: Contamac Ltd.'s continuing dedication to the development of materials for the production of contact and intraocular lenses, and DAC International's desire to add a high-end, polish-free, contact and intraocular lens production system to their product line.
DAC International plans to begin deliveries of the Opteq System in April.
The Opteq system includes the Diatop Lathe, a precision machine capable of producing polish-free lenses in a variety of materials, the Calculens Software Package equipped to feed lens designs directly to the lathe, and a proprietary blocking system ensuring the highest quality in lens generation.


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: February 2010