OCUMEDIC, GELEST INC. ENTER AGREEMENT FOR DRUG DELIVERY SYSTEM
OcuMedic Inc., a developer of new proprietary, drug-eluting soft contact lens/clear corneal bandage technology to replace eye drops, announced that it has entered into an exclusive supply agreement with and received a strategic investment from Gelest Inc., a supplier to the global contact lens market.
The OcuMedic technology provides contact lens manufacturers with the ability to deliver comfort agents to extend the wear time of daily-use lenses. According to OcuMedic, the technology is designed to eliminate patients’ therapeutic burden of having to treat themselves, which can lead to compliance problems and associated complications.
Under the terms of the agreement, Gelest will manufacture and supply OcuMedic’s key chemistry components necessary for the controlled release of drugs under OcuMedic’s intellectual property for clear or corrective extended-wear contact lenses/corneal bandages that deliver a wide variety of drugs. Initial indications will be for the treatment of inflammation and pain post-cataract and laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery and from corneal abrasions as well as for under-development conditions such as glaucoma and dry eye. ■
ALLERGAN SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE PROPOSED ACQUISITION BY ABBVIE
Allergan plc announced that its shareholders have voted to approve the previously announced proposed acquisition of Allergan by AbbVie Inc. Under the terms of the agreement announced on June 25, 2019, AbbVie will acquire Allergan in a cash and stock transaction for a transaction equity value of approximately $63 billion, based on the closing price of AbbVie’s common stock of $78.45 on June 24, 2019. Allergan shareholders will receive 0.8660 AbbVie Shares and $120.30 in cash for each Allergan share, for a total consideration of $188.24 per Allergan share. The transaction is expected to close in early 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. ■
ALLERGAN DONATES REFRESH TO CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTERS
Allergan recently provided 15,000 bottles of Refresh products to the Los Angeles Fire Department to be distributed to the first responders fighting the California wildfires. The donation is part of its Refresh America program, which has donated more than $4.2 million (approximately 290,000 units) to first responders across the United States since its launch in 2015. ■
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ABB OPTICAL GROUP REVEALS 2019 ABB CARES WINNERS
ABB Optical Group announced that seven non-profit organizations, nominated by eyecare professionals nationwide, will receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for outstanding programming and community impact through the Sixth Annual ABB Cares Program. Since the program’s inception, it has donated more than $65,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations in the United States.
A platinum ABB Cares grant of $5,000 was awarded to Fargo, ND-based BIO Girls. Gold ABB Cares grants of $2,500 were awarded to Lakeshore Food 4 Kids and Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. Additionally, four organizations received silver ABB Cares grants of $1,000: It’s a Sensory World, Sandy Feet Initiative, The Camphill School, and Vision is Priceless.
For more information about the ABB Cares program and this year’s recipients, visit www.abboptical.com/about-us/pressroom . ■
OCULUS LICENSES PREDICTIVE ALGORITHM TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPED BY BHVI
Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) and Oculus Optikgeräte GmbH announced an agreement in which Oculus will incorporate BHVI’s algorithms for tracking and estimating refractive error into its Myopia Master ophthalmic instruments. Oculus, BHVI, and the Shanghai Eye Disease Prevention and Treatment Center (its collaboration partner) will continue to work together to develop further functionality of Oculus’ Myopia Master featuring myopia management software incorporating a unique refractive outcome algorithm.
In unrelated news, BHVI launched its Myopia Education Program. All three courses are available in an anytime, anywhere format, which enables eyecare professionals to complete the program in their own time. Participants have a six-week time frame in which to complete the courses. ■
NECO HOSTS INDUSTRY & EMPLOYER RELATIONS MEETING
The New England College of Optometry (NECO) recently hosted its first Industry & Employer Relations Meeting, which brought together about 75 participants from areas such as private practice optometry, corporate optometry, optometric alliances, academia, and various sectors of the industry, such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, managed vision care, telemedicine, and the media.
In addition to tours of facilities, the two-day meeting included presentations on didactic education (by Erik Weissberg, OD, vice president and dean, academic affairs), clinical education (Kristin Brown, OD, associate dean, clinical affairs), student life (Sandra Mohr, EdD, dean, academic resources and administration), Eyetech, the college’s center for innovation (Gary Chu, OD, MPH, vice president of professional affairs), and faculty and student panels moderated by Dr. Chu.
Throughout the meeting, both presenters and attendees discussed a diverse set of issues facing optometric education, including changing demographics, academic demands, clinical expectations, the student experience, mental health obstacles, and student debt. ■
—Jim Thomas, contributing editor
LEO LENS TECHNOLOGY PRODUCT SELECTED AS FINALIST
Leo Lens Technology (LLT) announced that its drug delivery contact lens product was selected as a finalist in Connect w/ San Diego Venture Group’s (SDVG) Most Innovative New Product (MIP) Awards. According to LLT, it uses a patented platform technology to harness the power of high-tech digital printing to commercialize a drug-eluting, comfort-enhancing contact lens product. Its first product is a lens to treat glaucoma with a contact lens releasing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved bimatoprost. ■
J&J VISION TO CEASE CUSTOMER-FACING OPERATIONS FOR SIGHTBOX
Johnson & Johnson Vision (J&J Vision) announced that it will cease customer-facing operations for Sightbox, its U.S.-based online contact lens subscription service, while it evaluates options for the business over the next few months. The company said that this was a strategic decision and will enable it to focus its connected commerce investments, which remain a priority, in other program areas.
Sightbox will ship existing members their remaining annual contact lens subscriptions free of charge but will accept no renewals nor new subscriptions during the evaluation period. Johnson & Johnson Vision is reducing the Sightbox workforce but maintaining some roles key to the evaluation process. ■
HARRIS POLL SAYS PARENTS NEED TO BE EDUCATED ABOUT MYOPIA
A CooperVision study completed by The Harris Poll found that while one in four children in the United States is myopic, only 33% of parents know what the term means or how it can affect their children’s eyesight. In fact, parents were more knowledgeable about the flu (93%), ear infections (86%), and lice (80%) compared with myopia (65%). The survey included 1,000 U.S. parents who have children between the ages of 8 and 15. For an infographic on the results, visit https://coopervision.com/protect-kids-vision . ■
AAOF ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) announced the recipients of the 2019 Vincent Salierno Scholarships. The recipients include Kenneth Dang, New England College of Optometry; Mark Calixte, Nova Southeastern University School of Optometry; Christopher Muegge, Southern College of Optometry; Ryan Sandberg, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University; and Sarah Supak, University of Houston College of Optometry.
Students pursuing a doctorate of optometry degree are nominated by their institution for this scholarship. Each recipient will receive $2,000 to apply to his or her tuition. The Vincent Salierno Scholarship is eligible for automatic renewal provided that the recipient maintains a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and is enrolled in a full-time course of study leading to a doctorate of optometry degree. Continued eligibility shall be determined annually.
In other news, the AAOF, in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Vision, announced the 2019 J. Pat Cummings Scholarship recipients. This award is bestowed annually to second- or third-year optometry students who best demonstrate the ideal eyecare standards of practice, achievement in both academic performance and extracurricular activities, and participation with other professional pursuits such as involvement with patients through internships, community service, and other volunteer activities.
The full list of recipients is available at https://www.aaopt.org/home/aaof/news-detail/2019/10/28/american-academy-of-optometry-foundation-is-pleased-to-announce-the-2019-johnson-johnson-vision-j.-pat-cummings-scholarship-recipients . ■
GSLS 2020 SPOTLIGHT: BREAKOUT SESSIONS
The 2020 Global Specialty Lens Symposium program includes 18 breakout sessions, which will be held on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25. Topics being discussed in this year’s breakout sessions run the gamut of eyecare from orthokeratology to dry eye to lens care to scleral lenses and more.
Here is a sampling of the sessions that will be offered: Myopia Control: An Evidence Based Update, presented by Mark Bullimore; Contact Lenses for Visual Rehabilitation in Keratoconus: Characteristics and Outcomes of Contact Lenses for Keratoconus, presented by John Gelles; Do No Harm: When Is a Scleral Lens More Detrimental Than Beneficial? presented by Alan Kwok and Gloria Chiu; What’s New for Scleral Lens Success in OSD? presented by Chandra Mickles and Jennifer Harthan; and Amniotic Membranes for Contact Lens Complications and Anterior Segment Pathology, presented by Greg Caldwell.
For descriptions of all the breakout sessions, as well as the general and preconference sessions, visit the Agenda page on the GSLS website at https://www.eiseverywhere.com/website/2486/agenda . ■
OPTOMETRY GIVING SIGHT ESTABLISHES NEW BOARD
Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) has established a new board of directors to oversee the organization. Dr. Juan Carlos Aragón, president of CooperVision’s Specialty Eye Care Division, is the president of the new board. He previously served as Optometry Giving Sight’s chair of its Advisory Council U.S.A. and was on its Global Board for several years.
Joining Dr. Aragón on the board are Dr. Howard Purcell, president and CEO of New England College of Optometry; Yvette Waddell, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation; Dr. Susan Cooper, former president of the World Council of Optometry; and Dr. Earl Smith, former dean of the University of Houston College of Optometry. ■
COOPERCOMPANIES SELECTS TWO CHARITABLE GIVING BENEFICIARIES
CooperCompanies has selected Optometry Giving Sight and March of Dimes as the beneficiaries of its new global charitable giving program. Through the Cooper Giving program, company employees can donate year-round to both nonprofits, with Cooper providing a one-for-one match of up to $5,000 annually per employee.
Also, the company will continue to encourage local philanthropic efforts, supporting communities in which employees live and work. These contributions are part of Cooper’s alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. ■
- AccuLens is now offering trial lens sets with laser-etched limbal curve indicator (LCI) markings. According to the company, these markings will assist in determining proper lens diameter and limbal vault. Practitioners will be able to identify whether the lens diameter is too small, causing insufficient limbal clearance.
- Avellino Labs has received Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) for its AvaGen product, a genetic test for determining the risk of keratoconus and the presence of corneal dystrophies. This quarter, AvaGen will be available in a controlled launch leading to nationwide availability in 2020.
- Craig Johnson joined Visioneering Technologies Inc. in the role of quality specialist, based in its Alpharetta, GA headquarters. Mr. Johnson will be responsible for ongoing management of field quality activities including materials copy review administration and tracking, label inspection and control, sales team training, complaint handling, and customer feedback.
- Luneau Technology Group announced the acquisition of Next Sight, an Italian company specializing in retinal screening and telehealth. According to Luneau, complementary activities between the two companies and their respective experience will facilitate the extension of Luneau Technology Group product solutions and delivery of care to the visual health sector.
- Innovega Inc. appointed Jeff Bradley as an executive advisor to the company. Mr. Bradley has decades of leadership experience and expertise in driving new platforms to market, and he will assist Innovega in its planned product commercialization and go-to-market strategy.
- NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced an exclusive 90-day agreement with NuSight Medical to distribute the NuLids System for treatment of blepharitis and dry eye in six of NovaBay’s top-performing territories.
- Eaglet Eye BV announced that a new landing page has been unveiled for its Eye Surface Profiler (ESP) at www.scleralfitting.com . Eaglet has also enhanced its commitment to lab neutrality by offering almost 40 lens algorithms. Eaglet is making the new algorithms available to ESP users worldwide at no charge.
- Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. introduced Cequa Support Specialty Pharmacy, a program designed to enable commercially insured patients to easily obtain Cequa. Once a patient’s prescription is submitted, Cequa Support will provide insurance plan benefits verification, prior authorization support, and appeals assistance. This program is structured to minimize out-of-pocket cost and provides free home delivery.
- Marshall B. Ketchum University announced that Jennifer Coyle, OD, MS, has been selected to serve as the dean of Optometry at The Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO). Dr. Coyle assumed her new position on Dec. 1, 2019.
- Eyevance Pharmaceuticals announced the acquisition of TobraDex ST (tobramycin/dexamethasone ophthalmic suspension) 0.3%/0.05% and Natacyn (natamycin ophthalmic suspension) 5% from Novartis.
- Notal Vision Ltd. appointed Kester Nahen, PhD, as CEO. Dr. Nahen joined the company as COO in August 2019, bringing a wealth of global leadership experience in the medical device industry to his new position.
- Lensabl Inc., an online service that offers lens replacements for old glasses, has raised a $4 million funding round to support the company’s move into the contact lens and frame business. According to the company, it plans to launch sales of contact lenses next year at a much lower price point than that of brick-and-mortar retailers. Until recently, Lensabl focused on replacement lenses for eyeglasses.
- Novaliq and Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, a biopharmaceutical company based in China, closed an exclusive license agreement to develop, manufacture, and commercialize water-free drugs NOV03 and CyclASol for the treatment of dry eye disease (DED) in the People’s Republic of China (including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan).
- The World Council of Optometry announced that the congress will be in Melbourne from Sept. 2 to 4, 2021 and will run in partnership with the O=MEGA clinical conference and trade show at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The winning bid was put together by Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA) and the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association of Australia (ODMA) and was supported by the Melbourne Convention Bureau.