News Spectrum

News Spectrum

Shire to Acquire Sarcode Bioscience

Sarcode Bioscience, Inc., an ophthalmic biopharmaceutical company, will be acquired by Shire US Holdings Inc. Sarcode’s lifitegrast ophthalmic solution is currently in Phase 3 studies for the treatment of signs and symptoms of dry eye.

Under the terms of agreement, global specialty biopharmaceutical company Shire will make an upfront payment of $160 million, and Sarcode shareholders will be eligible to receive additional significant undisclosed payments upon achievement of certain clinical, regulatory, and/or commercial milestones. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to regulatory approval in the United States.

The Sarcode team will remain to support the ongoing clinical and manufacturing programs through submission of the New Drug Application (NDA) to the FDA. The ongoing lifitegrast clinical development program includes two Phase 3 studies. The 700-patient Opus-2 study, which began in early 2013, aims to build on the positive sign and symptom data resulting from Opus-1. The results from these two studies, along with data from an ongoing year-long safety study called Sonata, will support a planned NDA. Launches
Advantica, an ancillary benefits company, has launched, a proprietary online mail order contact lens program. The program is available to members covered by vision plans administered by Advantica for employer groups and health plans, as well as the general public. All orders are shipped in full compliance with current lens prescription regulations.

■ Italian contact lens company Safilens recently launched a new monthly silicone hydrogel lens in the European marketplace. The Open 30 contact lens is the first monthly silicone hydrogel lens based on the company’s patented Fusion Technology. The company says that Open 30 was created out of the desire to produce a minimal side effect contact lens. Safilens reports that this objective has been reached, not just through the use of the innovative material, Filcon 5—the new patented bio-silicone hydrogel at the base of the lens—but also by means of a careful analysis of each aspect of the interaction between the contact lens and the upper segment face to eliminate the most common causes of “rejection” with state-of-the-art solutions.

Irving Bennett, OD, was honored recently at the Prima Eye Group conference held in Disney World for his many years of leadership and service to the profession of optometry. Prima cofounders Neil Gailmard, OD, and Jerry Hayes, OD, presented Dr. Bennett with a plaque commemorating the special dinner event, which was held at the Great Hall of China in Epcot Center. Dr. Gailmard referred to Dr. Bennett as the Father of Optometric Practice Management.

Bausch + Lomb has discontinued production of Fluorets, which the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) reports was the only P medicine classified dry form of the stain. Alternative dry forms of sodium fluorescein are available, but do not hold a P licence in the United Kingdom. Those with a valid CE mark can still be used for contact lens-related diagnostic purposes. Alternatively, eyecare practitioners can use Minims of Fluorescein Sodium 1% and 2%. A joint statement by the Optical Confederation, College of Optometrists, and the BCLA says that the decision to cease production does not relate to any regulatory or safety issues and that B+L anticipates that the existing stock of Fluorets will come to an end in May 2013.

■ Because more women than men have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic eye disease, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has declared April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month in an effort to educate women about the steps they can take today to help preserve vision in the future. The organization recommends that women, especially those ages 40 years and older, should get a dilated eye exam. PBA also recommends a healthy diet, quitting smoking, taking supplements (as approved by a medical professional), consistently wearing UV-blocking sunglasses with a brimmed hat outdoors, and learning of any family history of eye disease.

The Vision Council has launched the standalone website, dedicated to educating consumers about low vision and low vision solutions. The site was created to serve as an online resource for people who have vision impairment due to macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and other eye conditions often associated with aging. The initiative aims to answer questions that those who have low vision, in addition to their loved ones and caregivers, may have by addressing its causes and warning signs as well as vision enhancing devices and medical solutions. The site design is fully functional for low vision users. It incorporates several specialty functions, including font size and contrast buttons, a doctor locator (“find a low vision specialist”), and a blog feed.

Vistakon to Discontinue Some Acuvue Lenses

Acuvue Bifocal and Acuvue 2 Colours will be discontinued, and the Acuvue lens will be available only in limited parameters in 2013, according to Vistakon.

Acuvue, which came to market in 1987, will no longer be available in select base curves and parameters in the United States as of July 1. All 9.1mm base curves and 8.4mm and 8.8mm base curves of parameters from −6.50D to −11.00D are being discontinued. Products with 8.4mm and 8.8mm base curves and parameters ranging from −0.50D to −6.00D will continue to be available.

All parameters of Acuvue Bifocal and Acuvue 2 Colours will be discontinued as of Dec. 31.

Dave Brown, Vistakon president, said that patients could be upgraded to newer brands of lenses such as Acuvue Oasys, 1-Day Acuvue Moist, and 1-Day Acuvue TruEye.

Lens Price Monitor Tracks Walmart, 1-800 Contacts

ABB Concise’s quarterly Soft Contact Lens Retail Price Monitor, now in its ninth year, is designed to help eyecare practitioners understand the dynamics of pricing soft contact lenses using annual supply discounts. New as of Q1 2013, the Retail Price Monitor compares eyecare practices’ retail pricing of soft contact lenses against online competitors 1-800 Contacts and Walmart online separately. ABB Concise said that it believed it was important to report the two online competitors’ pricing separately because the business partnership between Walmart and 1-800 Contacts had ended.

The company says it hopes that by making this information available, its accounts will see how important it is for them to continue focusing their practices’ efforts on selling annual supplies and utilizing manufacturer rebates to remain competitive. The Price Monitor also reflects manufacturer price and rebate changes. ABB Concise has made adjustments to its suggested retail pricing to reflect those changes while maintaining profitable margins.

To help with the strategy of selling annual supplies, ABB Concise offers tools such as its Annual Supply Tutorial for practice staff training, Annual Supply Comparison Worksheet, and Annual Supply Contact Lens Savings Plan worksheet. ABB Concise sales representatives can assist with staff training and pricing strategy. For more information on the annual supply tools or to obtain a copy of the new Q1 2013 Soft Contact Lens Retail Price Monitor, email or contact your ABB Concise sales representative.

B+L Welcomes New President, CFO
Bausch + Lomb (B+L) has named Robert Bertolini as president and chief financial officer effective immediately. He will oversee the company’s Finance, Information Technology, and Global Quality and Operations (GQO) functions. Bertolini, who assumes CFO responsibilities from Brian J. Harris, will report to B+L’s chief executive officer, Brent Saunders.

Mr. Bertolini previously was executive vice president and chief financial officer at Schering-Plough Corporation from 2003 until its merger with Merck & Co. in 2009. Earlier in his career, Bertolini spent 20 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, where during his tenure he led the Global Pharmaceutical Industry practice.

Mr. Saunders said that there is a possibility that former CFO Harris will take a different senior leadership role at B+L.

B+L and Walgreens Team Up to Promote Eye Health

Bausch + Lomb and Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, have announced a new SightSense online and in-store patient education program—an initiative to heighten eye health awareness and encourage consumers to take proactive steps to protect and preserve their sight.

The SightSense program features a special eye health section on that provides tools, information, and resources to help consumers become informed and proactive in their eye health, including a PSA-like video that illustrates the connection between eye health and overall wellness, as well as an eye health assessment test to screen for common problems. The website also provides an eyecare professional locator for consumers to find an eye doctor near them, as well as a list of upcoming in-store events.

Through both the online and in-store components of the SightSense program, consumers will be encouraged to get regular eye exams from their local eyecare professionals, a key step to maintaining healthy eyes and preventing other health-related issues. Routine eye exams also can lead to better treatment and prevention of other diseases. The eyes are the one organ where a patient’s arteries and veins can be seen, allowing eyecare professionals to detect early signs of more than 150 diseases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, years before patients display other symptoms. Bausch + Lomb and Walgreens will work together to build greater awareness about issues like these by providing consumers with the educational resources they need to increase their knowledge. B+L and Walgreens hope to help many people protect their sight and prevent other diseases through this program.

Cloud-Based Software Designed for Practitioners

CooperVision, Inc. will now offer eyecare practitioners the ability to communicate with patients automatically using custom web-based software offered by Websystem3. Websystem3 will build on CooperVision’s existing online CV+Program.

Michael Arnell, OD, the creator of Websystem3 said that as a practicing OD, he wanted to build software that would specifically address the needs of eyecare practices, primarily to get more appointments and to further engage with patients. The Websystem3 cloud-based software’s capabilities include the automatic scheduling of available appointment times and the ability to directly link satisfied patients to online review sites. The software enables an eyecare practice to send out practice branded email marketing campaigns and newsletters, deploy survey requests, push text messages to patients, and integrate with Facebook. An integrated mobile application and automated voice messaging is also available.

Practices interested in finding out more about the program should speak with their CooperVision representative.