VALEANT DIVESTS PARAGON
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently reported that Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc., parent of Bausch + Lomb, agreed to divest Paragon Holdings I, Inc. to settle charges that its May 2015 acquisition of Paragon violated Section 7 of the Clayton Act and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Prior to the acquisition, both Valeant and an independent Paragon Vision Sciences produced polymer discs used to make GP contact lenses.
According to the complaint, Valeant’s acquisition of Paragon eliminated competition between Valeant and Paragon for the sale of FDA-approved buttons used for three types of GP lenses: orthokeratology lenses, large-diameter scleral lenses, and general vision correction lenses. The acquisition combined the two largest manufacturers of GP buttons, accounting for more than 70% of U.S. sales across all three button types. According to the complaint, this allowed Valeant to exercise market power unilaterally in each button market by increasing prices, reducing volume discounts, decreasing innovation, and reducing product distribution options.
Under the settlement, Paragon Companies also acquired the assets of Pelican Products LLC—a contact lens packaging company that Valeant acquired after its purchase of Paragon—which is the only producer of FDA-cleared vials used for shipping some GP lenses, including wet-shipping finished ortho-k lenses.
Effective Nov. 9, 2016, former president of Paragon Vision Sciences Joe Sicari purchased Paragon Vision Sciences from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.
The company says that moving forward, Paragon’s focus will be on the highest growth segments of the ophthalmic industry: orthokeratology, the rapidly emerging area of myopia management, and scleral lens technology. Paragon says it will also focus on employing advanced design technology coupled with innovative electronic mediums to simplify and enhance the diagnosis, dispensing, and ongoing management of specialty contact lenses by eyecare practitioners.
To best achieve the company’s goals, Paragon reorganized its management team. Joe Sicari will retain the operating position of CEO but will work closely with JP Wei, PhD, vice president-Science & Technology, and Natalie Stevens, vice president-Finance & Operations.
Rich Jeffries has been promoted to the position of president. Jeffries will employ his very successful 11-year tenure with Paragon and, equally important, his years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, to drive Paragon’s global marketing, sales, professional services, and practice management teams. Jeffries’ focus will be on elevating and communicating Paragon’s attention to evidenced-based clinical outcomes and the company’s commitment to science and safety.
FTC PROPOSES CHANGES TO THE CONTACT LENS RULE
As part of its regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule, and consistent with the requirements of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposes to amend the rule to require that prescribers obtain a signed acknowledgment after releasing a contact lens prescription to a patient and maintain each such acknowledgment for a period of at least three years. The FTC seeks comment on this proposal and several other issues.
In particular, the FTC proposes to add the requirement that “upon completion of a contact lens fitting, and after providing a copy of the contact lens prescription to the patient, the prescribers shall request that the contact lens patient acknowledge receipt of the contact lens prescription by signing an acknowledgment form entitled, ‘Patient Receipt of Contact Lens Prescription.’ This form must state, ‘My eyecare professional provided me with a copy of my contact lens prescription at the completion of my contact lens fitting. I understand I am free to purchase contact lenses from the seller of my choice.’ In addition, the form must also include the name of the patient, the patient signature, and the date the form was signed. In the event that the patient declines to sign the acknowledgment form, the prescriber shall note the patient’s refusal on the form and sign it.”
The FTC also proposes that prescribers maintain the signed acknowledgments for a period of not less than three years, so that the signed acknowledgments are available for inspection by the FTC.
In addition to this amendment, the FTC is soliciting comment on additional proposals including:
• Additional mechanisms for improving prescription portability;
• Additional copies of prescriptions; and
• Sellers designated to act on behalf of patients.
The FTC’s full review of the Contact Lens Rule and its proposed changes can be viewed at www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/federal_register_notices/2016/11/contact_lens_rule_nprm111416.pdf. The comment form is available at ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensrule. Comments can also be submitted in writing to the FTC. All comments must be submitted by Jan. 30, 2017.
ACADEMY ESTABLISHES BRIEN HOLDEN HUMANITARIAN AWARD
The American Academy of Optometry established the Brien Holden Humanitarian Award to honor the memory and work of Professor Brien Holden, PhD, DSc. This award will recognize an individual who or organization that has made significant contributions to improve eye care within a country or region.
The award will acknowledge humanitarian efforts in the non-profit/not-for-profit sector that build or support the development of sustainable eyecare systems in developing communities.
The award, established by the Brien Holden Vision Institute and Holden family estate, will be given annually beginning in 2017. Nominations should include two letters of nomination from Academy Fellows and a CV of the nominee. Nominations are due by Apr. 1, 2017 to HelenV@aaoptom.org.
B+L LAUNCHES RECYCLING PROGRAM
Bausch + Lomb (B+L) has announced the launch of the B+L #ONEbyONE recycling program, encouraging consumers to help preserve the environment by taking one action at a time to one day achieve a greener future in which even their contact lenses can play a role. Patients can now recycle their used Biotrue Oneday contact lenses and other B+L contact lenses and blister packs through a free program, developed by B+L, in partnership with TerraCycle, a leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste.
B+L launched the program with a consumer event at the Marshall B. Ketchum University’s Southern California College of Optometry located in Anaheim, CA on Nov. 15, which was America Recycles Day.
Visit www.BauschRecycles.com to learn more about the program.
MEDMONT STUDIO TO INCORPORATE ORTHOTOOL
Medmont International Pty Ltd has announced that OrthoTool will soon be available within the Medmont Studio Software. With this collaboration, practitioners will be able to construct an orthokeratology contact lens within Medmont Studio. Using the Medmont Contact lens software, with OrthoTool designs embedded, allows practitioners to build and optimize the fit of their lenses in three dimensions. According to the company, this will improve the first fit success, efficiency, and profitability of orthokeratology practices.
Medmont’s new software update with OrthoTool is scheduled to be released this month; contact your local Medmont Distributor at www.medmont.com/contact.
NATURALVUE MULTIFOCAL CALCULATOR AVAILABLE
Visioneering Technologies, Inc. has introduced the NaturalVue Multifocal QuickStart Calculator, a web-based tool designed to help practitioners fit the company’s NaturalVue Multifocal 1 Day Contact Lenses.
Visioneering Technologies says that the NaturalVue Multifocal QuickStart Calculator provides the optimal starting lens powers requiring only the patient’s best-corrected spectacle refraction and vertex distance. The calculator also provides powers for vision enhancements, if needed, according to Visioneering Technologies. This tool should enable practitioners to achieve more immediate success with the NaturalVue Multifocal.
Practitioners who use the new NaturalVue Multifocal QuickStart Calculator with the NaturalVue Multifocal Fitting Success Tool can expect to experience a 90% to 100% patient purchase rate and a repurchase rate of 92% based on Visioneering Technology accounts, according to the company.
The NaturalVue Multifocal QuickStart Calculator can be found at naturalvuecalculator.com or at http://vtivision.com/pages/naturalvue-multifocal-quickstart-calculator. It can also be accessed from any web-connected mobile device using the same link to the vtivision.com website. It is also now available as an app for iPhone and Android phones from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
X-CEL CONTINUES CHARITABLE SPECIALTY LENS CAMPAIGN
X-Cel Specialty Contacts is continuing to partner with practitioners around the world to provide specialty contact lenses free of charge regardless of a patient’s economic and social status. Since March 2015, more than 3,000 patients in more than 65 countries have benefited from the #ChangingLives campaign.
X-Cel’s #ChangingLives campaign was initiated as a means to assist the millions of people who are in desperate need of vision correction but have limited economic resources and are unable to get the help they need. Those who are able to visit an eyecare professional often do not have sufficient means to purchase the lenses for their condition.
Many of the patients involved in the campaign are diagnosed as legally blind with irregular cornea problems, aphakia, and myopia, among others. The outstanding success of the campaign is owed to the practitioners serving the optical industry worldwide who not only donate their time and resources to those who cannot afford vision care, but do so with admirable compassion and generosity.
For more information on the inspirational stories of these practitioners and patients around the world, follow the #ChangingLives campaign on X-Cel Specialty Contacts’ Facebook page (www.facebook.com/xcelspecialtycontacts.com).
COMPANY OFFERS LOW-COST DAILY DISPOSABLE LENSES
Hubble offers another alternative for online purchasing of contact lenses. The company has partnered with St. Shine, which manufacturers Hubble’s FDA-cleared daily disposable lenses in Taipei, Taiwan. After the prescription has been verified, new customers will get their first shipment of 30 Hubble lenses for free with a $3 shipping and handling fee.
Subscribers can chose between monthly and annual subscriptions at $30 per month or $264 per year, respectively. Orders can be canceled or modified at any time. For subsequent shipments, the contact lenses are shipped for free to anywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to military APO/DPO/FPO addresses.
Hubble’s daily disposable contact lenses are made of high-grade methafilcon A, a hydrogel material with 55% water content, UV protection, and a thin edge. Currently, the lenses are available with powers ranging from –0.75D to –8.00D. According to Hubble, the available base curve and diameter used for Hubble daily disposable contact lenses are suitable for almost all people who wear contact lenses and have either no or mild astigmatism (less than –1.00D cylinder). For patients who have more significant levels of astigmatism, Hubble is planning to offer toric contact lenses in mid-2017.
LENSFERRY S FOR DAILY DISPOSABLE LENS WEARERS
First introduced in April by EyeCare Prime, a subsidiary of CooperVision, Inc., LensFerry S allows participating practices to enroll one-day contact lens wearers in the service, which divides the annual cost of one-day lenses into automatic monthly payments and quarterly lens deliveries. LensFerry S includes contact lenses from all manufacturers at eyecare professionals’ specified prices, and the prescribing practice receives the sales revenue as if the lenses had been paid for in-office.
LensFerry S is available to all eyecare practices in the United States. It costs $49 per month, plus $2.50 per shipment. For every completed patient annual subscription through LensFerry S, EyeCare Prime makes a donation to Optometry Giving Sight for an eye exam.
● Allergan plc has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Restasis Multidose (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05%, a preservative-free, multi-dose bottle offering the same preservative-free formulation of Restasis available since its launch in 2003. Restasis Multidose is designed with a patented unidirectional valve and air filter technology that eliminates the need for a preservative. The new multi-dose bottle uses less plastic compared to a package of single-use vials and will be available for the same price.
● Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. received an R&D 100 Award for its 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal lens design. The R&D 100 Awards recognize the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year, awarding excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, high-energy physics, materials science, chemistry, and biotechnology. 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal was recognized for optimizing an optical design based upon the natural variation that occurs in pupil size across age and refractive error.
● Brien Holden Vision Institute has relaunched its website (www.brienholdenvision.org). The new website is more user friendly and is responsive, meaning that it looks good on both desktop and mobile. It also features a fixed navigation bar to ensure quick access to the various pages within the site. Additionally, the website will include the latest vision industry news.
● Michael Lipson, OD, assistant professor of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, has joined the Bausch + Lomb Specialty Vision Products business as an independent consultant, responsible for lecturing and training eye-care professionals on specialty contact lenses with an emphasis on orthokeratology. Dr. Lipson brings extensive academic and private practice experience on contact lenses, with emphasis on specialty contact lenses for overnight corneal reshaping, keratoconus, post-corneal transplant, post-refractive surgery, and severe dry eye patients. Dr. Lipson is also a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
● AccuLens has announced the return of Greg Sobiech, who previously held the position of director of Sales and Marketing. Sobiech brings more than 25 years of experience in medical and ophthalmic sales and will be responsible for market development of the EasyFit and Maxim Scleral Lenses in the southeastern United States. He will also assist in national account development.
● Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. recently announced the execution of definitive agreements by its wholly owned subsidiary for the acquisition of Ocular Technologies, Sarl (OTS), a portfolio company of Auven Therapeutics, an international private equity company focused on accelerated development of breakthrough therapeutic drugs. OTS owns exclusive, worldwide rights to Seciera (cyclosporine A, 0.09% ophthalmic solution). Under the terms of the agreement, Sun Pharma will pay Auven $40 million upfront, plus contingent development milestones and sales milestones in addition to tiered royalty on sales of Seciera as consideration for this acquisition. Seciera is currently in a Phase-3 confirmatory clinical trial for the treatment of dry eye disease.
● ABB Optical Group recently announced that seven non-profit organizations, nominated by eyecare professionals nationwide, will receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 in recognition of their outstanding programming and community impact. The grants are presented through the company’s third annual ABB Cares program. The 2016 ABB Cares grant recipients include:
Platinum Grant of $5,000: Addi’s Faith Foundation in Kingwood, TX, nominated by Family Vision Center of Porter & Crosby.
Gold Grants of $2,500:
• Project Wee Care in Omaha, NE, nominated by Millard Vision Center.
• Bobcat Backpack Program in Radford, VA, nominated by Invision.
Silver Grants of $1,000:
• All God’s People in Orland Park, IL, nominated by Primary Eyecare Professionals.
• The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque in Dubuque, IA; nominated by Klauer Optical Co.
• Lighthouse of Broward in Fort Lauderdale, FL, nominated by East Side Vision Center.
• The Los Alamitos Youth Center in Los Alamitos, CA, nominated by Alamitos Eyecare.
For more information about the ABB Cares program and to sign up for notifications about next year’s grant application process, visit ABBOptical.com.
SIGHTBOX PROVIDES ALTERNATIVE TO VISION INSURANCE FOR CL WEARERS
Portland, OR-based Sightbox has received $1.8 million from Rogue Venture Partners, a Portland investment firm. Sightbox plans to use the funds to expand its membership from the current 1,200 to 5,000 by May 2017.
With a Sightbox membership, members get an annual comprehensive eye exam (including refraction) and contact lens fitting (including follow ups) as well as a one-year supply of soft contact lenses. Memberships are 12 months long and range in price from $39 per month for monthly and two-week modalities up to $89 per month for daily disposables.
There is no network for practitioners to join; Sightbox will work with any practice in the United States. If members don’t currently have a practitioner, Sightbox can recommend one that is local them; there is no referral fee for the practice. Additionally, the company will schedule the appointment for the member.
On the practitioner side, Sightbox pays the private pay (cash pay) rate for an exam and fitting via credit card over the phone at the time of a patient’s exam. If needed, payment can also be provided in advance.
Sightbox handles payment for both the eye exam and contact lens fitting so its members don’t have to pay out of pocket. It will then collect the prescription from the practitioner’s office after the appointment. Sightbox offers most of the top brands of soft contact lenses, including those needed for patients who have astigmatism; the company does not offer GP lenses.
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