Novartis Now Majority Shareholder of Alcon
Novartis AG and Nestlé S.A. have completed the purchase and sale of approximately 156 million shares of Alcon, Inc. for $28.3 billion in cash. The transaction was consummated pursuant to an agreement between Nestlé and Novartis that was executed on April 6, 2008. With the completion of this transaction, Novartis is now Alcon's majority shareholder and controls approximately 77 percent of Alcon's outstanding shares.
Effective immediately, the five Nestlé-designated members of the Alcon board of directors have tendered their resignations, and the Aug. 16, 2010 election of the five Novartis-designated directors is deemed effective. The Novartis-designated directors elected by Alcon shareholders include Dr. Enrico Vanni until 2011; Mr. Norman Walker until 2011; Dr. Paul Choffat until 2012; Dr. Urs Baerlocher until 2013; Dr. Jacques Seydoux until 2013.
"I would like to thank Nestlé for their outstanding contributions and support of Alcon for more than 30 years, which has been an important part of making Alcon the global leader in ophthalmology," said Kevin Buehler, Alcon's president and chief executive officer. "We now welcome Novartis as our new majority owner and look forward to working with them to further enhance Alcon's business model, provide opportunities for future growth and deliver benefits to customers and patients around the world."
The transaction announced by Nestlé and Novartis does not affect the remaining 23 percent of Alcon's shares that trade publicly on the New York Stock Exchange. On January 4, 2010, Novartis proposed a merger of the two companies under Swiss merger law at a fixed exchange rate of 2.8 Novartis shares for each Alcon share. The Independent Director Committee (IDC) of Alcon's board of directors rejected this proposal on January 20, 2010 based on inadequate value.
In mid-August, China's Ministry of Commerce approved Novartis AG's acquisition of Alcon Inc., but barred Novartis from selling one of its premerger ophthalmological anti-infection products in China for five years to meet requirements of China's antimonopoly law. Novartis will also have to halt a sales partnership with a Taiwanese contact lens maker.
The European Commission and The Competition Bureau in Canada had also reached similar agreements, requiring Novartis to divest a number of businesses across product areas including ophthalmological antiinfective, anti-inflammatory/anti-infective combinations, anti-allergics, decongestants, antiseptics, mydriatics and cycloplegics, diagnostic agents, non steroidal anti-inflammatories, injectable miotics, antiglaucoma products, artificial tears, and multipurpose solutions.
New Lens Receives UV Seal from AOA
1-Day Acuvue Tru- Eye silicone hydrogel daily disposable contact lenses (Vistakon) received the Seal of Acceptance for Ultraviolet Absorbing Contact Lenses from the American Optometric Association's (AOA) Commission on Ophthalmic Standards. Vistakon reports that 1-Day Acuvue TruEye is the fifth contact lens in the Acuvue family of products to receive the Seal of Acceptance.
In awarding the Seal of Acceptance, AOA's Commission on Ophthalmic Standards, which provides independent evaluation of ophthalmic related products, determined that 1-Day Acuvue TruEye meets AOA specifications for ultraviolet absorbing contact lenses. These specifications are in accordance with published standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Standards Organization (ISO).
"For those who need vision correction, a significant measure of UV protection can be achieved with a combination of UV-absorbing sunglasses, a widebrimmed hat, and UV-blocking contact lenses," says Karl M. Citek, OD, PhD, chair of the Commission on Ophthalmic Standards.
Study Shows Need for Pediatric Compliance
The journal Pediatrics, in association with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recently reported the results of a two-year study titled, "Emergency Department Visits for Medical Device-Associated Adverse Events Among Children." Of all the visits, about 23 percent were associated with contact lens wear. The data indicate that the most frequently reported injury diagnoses resulting from contact lenses were abrasions and ulcers of the cornea and conjunctivitis (i.e., pink eye).
A statement from the American Academy of Optometry Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies says that while these injuries were generally considered superficial and did not require hospitalization, many could have been prevented.
The statement went on to say, "The most common risk factors for contact lens complications in this study were alteration of the prescribed wearing or replacement schedules and noncompliance with recommended contact lens wear and care regimens."
The Section recommends that parents contact the emergency number of their child's optometrist to ensure proper diagnosis and management of contact lens complications and that practitioners review contact lens replacement, lens care, and hygiene at every visit.
Lagado Appoints New VP
Menicon Co. Ltd. has tapped an industry veteran as its vice president of manufacturing for Lagado Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Menicon America Inc.
Mark Allen, who will report to Jonathan Jacobson, Menicon America president, joins Menicon with more than 25 years' experience in the GMP manufacturing sector, including in the contact lens and ophthalmic viscoelastics industry. Allen will oversee manufacturing operations of Lagado Corporation and will be based in Denver. He will work closely with Bill Hoffman, research scientist for Lagado, in bringing new contact lens materials to market for custom lens manufacturers.
"I am thrilled to be joining the Menicon team," Allen said. "The recent acquisition of Lagado marks the latest milestone in Menicon America's strategy to aggressively pursue the U.S. market. I look forward to continuing Lagado's established history of high-quality and innovative products, and I will bring a new emphasis for providing strong technical support for our customers."
B+L Voluntary Recall of Eye Vitamin in U.S.
Bausch + Lomb is conducting a voluntary recall of its PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS 2 Formula with Omega 3 soft gels, only available within the United States.
B+L chose to initiate this recall based on a small number of reports predominantly within a specific age group, age 70 and older, who reported difficulty swallowing or a choking sensation when taking the soft gel.
The voluntary recall is limited only to the United States; it does not affect locations in Europe, the Middle East, or Asia- Pacific regions. Lot numbers include: 0923BK103, 0924BK103, 0924BK103A, 0925BK103A, 0926BK103A, 0927BK103A, 0928BK103A, 0929BK103A, and 0930BK103A. The PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS 2 Formula with Omega 3 is the only supplement affected in the recall; all other PreserVision and Ocuvite supplements, soft gels, and tablets remain on the market.
To clarify, the company states that the formulation of PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS 2 Formula with Omega 3 is safe. While many people can comfortably swallow the supplement, B+L believes the design of the soft gel requires further consideration.
B+L expects to release an AREDS 2 formulation in a smaller soft gel which will be dosed twice per day, two pills per dose. This immediate redesign is expected to be available later this year.
The company has directly contacted U.S. retailers who have been shipped this product to initiate the recall and informed them of the steps they should take to return the product. Even if consumers are comfortable swallowing the soft gel, the company is urging them to return the product to B+L. Consumers who have this product in their home should call the customer service center for instructions on returning and reimbursement at (800) 553-5340.
|Program Offers Substitutes for Discontinued Lenses|
|■ Alden Optical Inc, manufacturer of custom made-to-order soft and GP contact lenses, has created the Phoenix Program, which the company developed to provide practitioners with a solution to replacing discontinued soft sphere contact lens brands.
"Alden Optical is in a unique position to help solve the problems presented by the discontinuation of popular soft sphere brands," said Tom Shone, Alden Optical president. "With the Phoenix Program we have harnessed our custom manufacturing expertise, extraordinarily broad parameter ranges and comprehensive material availability to offer lenses that are very close substitutes to many discontinued brands."
Alden Optical offers lenses in polymacon, methafilcon, Benz 3X and Benz 5X in any base curve/diameter combination and with spherical powers of ± 30.00D.
Information on the Phoenix Program is on the company's new Web site, www.aldenoptical.com.
|ASCO Awards Mini-Grants for Diversity Programs|
|Nine schools and colleges of optometry have received diversity mini-grants through the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry's (ASCO) 2010 Optometric Education Diversity Mini-Grant Program. This program is supported by Luxottica Retail and the Vision Care Institute, LLC and is designed to provide seed money for a specific program/project to assist schools/colleges of optometry with their long-term diversity/multicultural efforts.
The following schools and colleges were funded: Illinois College of Optometry – Focus on Your Future Summer Program; Indiana University College of Optometry – Eye Do! Making a Commitment to Optometry; The New England College of Optometry – Optometry Career Program; Pacific University College of Optometry – Pacific University InSight 2010; Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University – Summer Internship Program at The Eye Institute; University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry – Providing Diversity in Optometric Education through Continual Enhancement of Current Programs that Promote Diversity in Optometry; University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry – Berkeley Optometry Opto-Camp; University of Missouri at St. Louis College of Optometry – Eyes on Diversity; and Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry – Reaching Out to Families and Communities – Opening Eyes to Optometry.
Industry Briefs■ ABB Concise has begun distributing Polyvue's High Definition Multifocal Progressive and High Definition Aspheric soft contact lenses. The ABB Concise lens consultants have been trained on PolyVue lenses and can help practitioners with contact lens fits. They also can take any trial set order. PolyVue HD lenses feature patented spherical aberration control optics, designed for enhanced visual acuity at all distances, improved depth of field, and reduced refractive astigmatism.
■ The GP Lens Institute will be introducing several new resources in the next few months at www.gpli.info, including a Four Part Keratoconus Module, Optimizing Initial Comfort Module, Click ‘n Fit, and an expanded GP Lens Case Grand Rounds Troubleshooting Guide with 24 new cases.
■ The inaugural international meeting of the World Keratoconus Society took place in Ouro Preto, Brazil, Aug. 5 to 7, 2010. The World Keratoconus Society is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to treating and enhancing the quality of life for people who have keratoconus. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss keratoconus etiology and new trends in diagnosis and management.
■ Bausch + Lomb is offering a special back-to-school promotion for SofLens Daily Disposable lenses to spread the word to parents about the benefits of daily disposables for children and to promote a discounted rate for a box of 90 lenses. Discounted SofLens Daily Disposables will be available at participating locations, including Pearl Vision Center, Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, as well as local eyecare practitioners from July through September.
■ International Vision Expo West has announced that Luxottica will sponsor the Visionomics continuing education program at this year's show. Visionomics is a business-based educational program featuring 15 courses designed to identify new opportunities and increase efficiencies for eyecare professionals. The courses will be held over a four-day period and will encompass 23 hours of training.
■ Bausch + Lomb has launched its Stellaris PC (Procedural Choice) Vision Enhancement System. The Stellaris PC provides a high-performance combined vitrectomy and phacoemulsification system that allows surgeons the flexibility to perform different ophthalmic procedures while saving time, space, and money, according to B+L. The Stellaris PC replaces the Millennium Microsurgical System.
■ Prevent Blindness America has announced the recipients of its 2010 Investigator Awards, which are chosen by a panel of experts from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. This year's recipients are Mark Borchert, MD, Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles, "The Geographic Distribution of Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) in the United States," and Sophie X. Deng, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, "Diagnosis and Staging of Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency (LCSD) Using in vivo Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy."
■ The American Board of Clinical Optometry (ABCO) has expanded its Board of Directors to include Leonid Skorin, Jr., OD, DO, and public member Ms. Mary Kate Scott, BA (hons), MBA. Ms. Scott is a principal with Scott & Company, Inc., a strategic healthcare consulting firm, and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California teaching The Business of Healthcare. She is a national speaker on health issues. Dr. Skorin, Jr. is a senior staff ophthalmologist at the Albert Lea Eye Clinic-Mayo Health System and assistant professor of Ophthalmology at Mayo Clinic.
■ The Foundation for Eye Health Awareness has appointed Stephanie Campbell, MPH, as managing director. In this role, Campbell will work closely with the president and executive director, Mike Daley, to lead programs and initiatives developed by board directors. She will also serve as the primary staff liaison to the development, event planning, finance, marketing, and nominating committees, as well as the advisory council and donor leadership circle. Campbell played an integral role in the development of the 2009 Eye Health Summit, which led to the creation of the Foundation for Eye Health Awareness.