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Companies Vie for B&L

While Advanced Medical Optics says its acquisition of Bausch & Lomb would enhance its ability to generate efficiencies and innovation, some investors questioned its $4.23 billion offer to take over B&L.

AMO submitted its proposal to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding shares of B&L in a merger in which B&L's shareholders would receive, per share of B&L stock, $45 in cash and $30 in AMO stock, valued based on the average closing price of the AMO common stock for five trading days prior to the date (if any) on which an agreement is signed. The AMO proposal's terms include that AMO will have up to 12 months to close the transaction and that interest would be paid in cash with respect to the purchase price by AMO at the rate of 7.2 percent per annum beginning six months after a definitive merger agreement is executed. B&L was to continue negotiating with AMO with respect to its proposal.

At press time, Warburg Pincus had not yet, but was expected to raise its $3.67 billion bid to acquire B&L. Analysts said that the Warburg offer was more attractive because of AMO's overlap with some B&L businesses that could warrant a timely investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. Warburg has already been granted antitrust approval.

One AMO investor, ValueAct, filed a letter with regulators stating that AMO should focus on improving its own contact lens solutions instead of making a bid for B&L. According to wire reports, James Mazzo, AMO's chief executive, was surprised with ValueAct's action because AMO had recently discussed the possibility of ValueAct contributing equity to the B&L bid.

ValueAct also pointed out the tough scrutiny that may follow an AMO and B&L merger.

AMO, Experts Discuss Acanthamoeba keratitis

Advanced Medical Optics held a press conference at the recent American Optometric Association meeting in Boston to discuss Complete MoisturePlus and Acanthamoeba. David W. Hansen, OD, FAAO, director of professional services for AMO, stated that AMO is advocating rub and rinse for all soft lenses, as well as cleaning lenses from the center out during the rub step. Dr. Hansen stated a need to treat contact lens care as a medical device.

The company also stated in a press release that clinicians are expected to educate and insist proper patient compliance and safety with contact lens care.

Robin Chalmers, OD, FAAO, and Brien A. Holden, PhD, also spoke at the AMO event. Dr. Chalmers emphasized the need for patients to think of their own role with lens care and to not trivialize the device. She also noted that practitioners need to recommend rub and rinse for a reason — namely more comfortable lenses and better safety. She added that practitioners need to pay equal attention to the device and its users.

Prof. Holden also strongly advocated rub and rinse, stating, "No rub makes no sense to me." He emphasized that rub and rinse provides a safety margin especially against fungi and protozoa. He further stated that hydrogen peroxide is the most effective disinfection system and even recommended delaying neutralization when possible to give lenses longer exposure to the peroxide. Prof. Holden also indicated that more cooperation across the contact lens industry could help tackle major issues and get important messages across to patients such as the importance of compliance and hygiene.

Bausch & Lomb has named Robert J. Moore corporate vice president and president-U.S. vision care. Moore has had management responsibility for the United States contact lens, lens care and OTC eyecare businesses since 2004 and was named to B&L's Corporate Strategy Board in January. The company has also named Jeffrey Nardoci vice president and general manger – U.S. Lens Care and Over-The-Counter products. Nardoci is responsible for the strategic direction of B&L's lens care and OTC products and for overseeing the company's development and execution of marketing, sales and advertising initiatives.
■ A recent CIBA Vision study shows that in the first quarter of 2007, the daily disposable segment increased to 10 percent of the total soft contact lens category revenue, the highest share it has ever achieved in the United States. Growth is up 28 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2006, according to the study.
Sauflon USA has recently added its Sauflon Lite Multi-purpose Solution to Patient Direct, its new retention program. Patients receive a starter kit of solution and a membership card with their contact lenses, then can purchase retail size solution through the Patient Direct Web site, toll-free order line or with a re-order card. All profits return to the prescribing practice.
■ The Contact Lens Council has launched to help educate consumers of all ages and vision needs about new contact lens innovations and how to be informed lens wearers. Features include the history of contact lenses, contact lens care section and a section on what's new in contact lenses.
■ The Vision Council of America has released the Vision in Business report, which shows that vision disorders result in a marked decrease in productivity, costing businesses an estimated $8 billion annually. The report examines the prevalence and cost of vision problems as well as the role of preventive vision care in improving the productivity and efficiency of the American workplace. In other VCA news, the Public Relations Society of America has chosen the VCA's Check Yearly. See Clearly. campaign to receive a Bronze Anvil Award of Commendation in the category of Media Relations – Consumer Services/Health Care Services.
Lions Clubs International Foundation, in partnership with Allergan, have launched "All Eyes on the Family," a national educational program for glaucoma patients and caregivers. The program will offer free glaucoma check up and screening events across the country and discussion guides for patients and caregivers to use in conversations with each other and with their eyecare professionals.
■ A new study conducted by Robert Gerowitz, OD, found that Thermoeyes heat packs used with Tranquileyes goggles (Eye Eco, Inc.) improved tear break-up time by 57 percent over standard warm compress, was up to 223 percent more effective than warm compresses for managing meibomian gland dysfunction and that all patient symptoms decreased or were eliminated with Thermoeyes.

Art Optical to Offer Soft Lenses

Art Optical Contact Lens, Inc. recently completed a large scale transatlantic partnership agreement with the UltraVision CLPL Group. The agreement grants Art Optical license to lathe-cut soft contact lens technology from UltraVision CLPL, the largest independent dedicated contact lens manufacturer and supplier in the United Kingdom. CLPL owns numerous patented contact lens designs in territories worldwide. In 2006, CLPL received The Queens's Award for Enterprise – Innovation, the highest level of recognition that can be bestowed on any U.K. business, for the patented contact lens designs that Art Optical has agreed to license and manufacture in the United States.

■ At the recent American Optometric Association annual meeting, AOA leaders discussed new strategic initiatives soon to launch. The AOA will continue its federal advocacy efforts to make sure the organization's voice is heard in Washington, DC.
In addition, the AOA will create a National Commission on Vision and Health. Led by Barry Barresi, OD, PhD, president of the New England Eye Institute, VP of clinical services and professor of health policy at The New England College of Optometry, the Commission will be comprised mainly of non-ODs. According to Kevin Alexander, OD, AOA president-elect, these experts from various professional fields will advise the AOA in the organization's effort to develop policy statements on the importance of eye care to general health issues and to influence legislation at the "front end" before bills are drafted.
The AOA also reported on the success of its InfantSEE program, which now has 7,500 OD participants, and stated that the organization will continue discussing joint board certification with other optometric groups.

TVCI Satellite Centers Open, Lenses Gain UV Seal

Johnson & Johnson's The Vision Care Institute, LLC, is partnering with optometry schools and colleges throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico to offer distance learning and live programming for first- through fourth-year students at on-campus satellite centers.

The first satellite center opened in early June at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, while the second opened at the New England College of Optometry later that month. Additional satellite centers will be built at other optometry schools over time.

"We believe that bringing this technology onto the campus will assist not only in the training of students and alumni, but also will increase our capability to communicate to our colleagues and students throughout the world," said Thomas Lewis, OD, PhD, and president of PCO.

Elizabeth Chen, president of The New England College of Optometry, said, "We are so grateful for the new learning center as it will sharply strengthen our ability to help students bridge the gap between classroom learning and professional practice."

Global UV Seal

In other Johnson & Johnson news, the company recently announced that its Acuvue Advance with Hydraclear, Acuvue Advance for Astigmatism and Acuvue Oasys with Hydraclear Plus brand contact lenses are the first lenses to receive the World Council of Optometry's Global Seal of Excellence for Ultraviolet Absorbing Contact Lenses.

B&L Files Suit Against Alcon
Bausch & Lomb has filed a civil suit against Alcon Laboratories, Inc., to stop an advertising campaign that the company alleges makes false and misleading claims about ReNu MultiPlus multi-purpose contact lens solution and other contact lens care solutions.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, also seeks damages for the loss of sales based on Alcon's claims.
In a statement, Alcon said, "The complaint filed June 26th by Bausch & Lomb in New York concerns Alcon educational materials designed to inform physicians about corneal staining data associated with certain combinations of contact lenses and lens care solutions. There is nothing false or misleading about the well documented corneal staining data incorporated in some of these materials. This data, from the internationally recognized corneal staining studies of Dr. Gary Andrasko, has been circulating among eyecare professionals for well over a year."
"Alcon is extensively reporting conclusions not supported by the research, thus intentionally misleading, confusing and deceiving the eyecare community and consumers," said Robert Moore, vice president and general manager of Bausch & Lomb's U.S. vision care and OTC eye care business.