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NEWS SPECTRUM

ALCON COMPLETES SPINOFF FROM NOVARTIS

On April 9, 2019, Alcon completed its separation from Novartis. Under the terms of the separation, each Novartis shareholder or ADR (American Depositary Receipt) holder will receive one Alcon share for every five Novartis shares or ADRs that they held as of the close of business on April 1, 2019, the record date for the distribution.

Alcon is headquartered in Geneva. In addition, its facilities in Fort Worth, Texas, will remain a major operational center and innovation hub with a large base of employees.

In related news, Alcon announced that Timothy C. Stonesifer will join the company as its new senior vice president and CFO. He will report directly to David Endicott, Alcon’s CEO, and will become a member of the executive committee of Alcon.

David Murray, Alcon’s current CFO, has decided for family reasons to return to Europe and remain with Novartis, where he has served in various finance leadership roles since 2001. He will work closely with Mr. Stonesifer through the spinoff to ensure an orderly transition.

Mr. Stonesifer joins Alcon with more than 29 years of global financial and operational experience. He was most recently with Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE), where he served as executive vice president and CFO. Prior to his time at HPE, Mr. Stonesifer spent three years in Shanghai, China, as the CFO of General Motors International Operations and also spent 18 years at General Electric in a variety of finance roles. ■

2019 GLOBAL CONTACT LENS FORUM PROVIDES EDUCATION AT VEE

More than 250 attendees participated in the 2019 Global Contact Lens Forum, which was held in New York City in conjunction with Vision Expo East. The meeting opened with an expert panel of contact lens specialists discussing “The Business of Specialty Contact Lenses: How to Start, Grow and Thrive in the 21st Century.” This was followed by grand rounds presentations highlighting efficient and effective use of technology in specialty contact lens practice. The event concluded with Dr. Chris Smiley discussing “Getting Paid: Billing and Coding in Specialty Contact Lens Practice.” Other faculty included Drs. Pam Lowe, Jason Miller, Brooke Messer, and Tom Quinn. The event was sponsored by Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision, and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.

The Global Contact Lens Forum will take place again on Sept. 18, 2019 as part of Vision Expo West in Las Vegas. ■ —Thomas G. Quinn, OD, MS

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NBEO SETTLES CLASS ACTION IN ALLEGED DATA BREACH

The National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) will allot $3.25 million in a cash settlement fund to compensate some 61,000 victims of an alleged data breach. In a court ruling, District Judge James K. Bredar of Maryland gave preliminary approval to the class action settlement that establishes a means of financial reimbursement and credit monitoring services for affected individuals and outlines steps that the NBEO will take to significantly upgrade its data security practices.

The class action settlement comes nearly three years after large numbers of optometry students and doctors of optometry nationwide began reporting identity theft, particularly stolen Social Security numbers and other personal information used to apply for credit cards. Following the breach, 13 doctors of optometry filed three separate actions against NBEO—which were since consolidated into the current case—claiming that the targeted information was available and maintained by the testing organization as a requirement for certifying exams and credentialing. NBEO still disputes that it was the source of the breach.

Although Judge Bredar gave preliminary approval to the settlement, a final approval hearing is scheduled for July 12, 2019, and settlement benefits may begin once the court enters a final judgement. In the meantime, notices of settlement will be sent to up to 61,000 people believed affected by the alleged data breach with detailed instructions about the settlement and how to submit a claim. ■

NOVABAY PHARMACEUTICALS ANNOUNCES SHIFT IN U.S. AVENOVA COMMERCIALIZATION STRATEGY

NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced a strategic shift to deploy its sales representatives only in high-performing territories and in territories that the company has identified as having significant prescription volume potential along with favorable health plan coverage to support Avenova per-unit revenue. The company will continue to focus on contracting with additional specialty pharmacies as channel partners, which provide quality patient experiences at a negotiated price per prescription. To align with the strategic shift, NovaBay has reduced its U.S. commercial salesforce from 45 to 15 field sales representatives.

It also announced investments totaling $5 million to support the recent strategic shift in its U.S. commercialization strategy aimed at driving growth in Avenova sales while maintaining cost effectiveness. The investments include a convertible loan of $2 million from Ascendiant Capital Markets and Chicago Venture Partners. Additionally, Triton Funds LP has committed to making an equity investment of up to $3 million.

In addition, NovaBay made the following personnel changes, all effective immediately. Paul E. Freiman, lead independent director, who joined the company’s board of directors in 2002, has been named chairman. Former chairman Mark M. Sieczkarek will continue to serve as a director of the company. Jack McGovern, interim president, CEO, CFO, and treasurer, has resigned from the company. Justin Hall, senior vice president and general counsel, who has been with the company since 2013, has assumed the positions of interim president and CEO. He will continue to serve as the company’s general counsel and corporate compliance officer. Additionally, Jason Raleigh, corporate controller, who joined NovaBay in 2016, has assumed the positions of interim CFO and treasurer. ■

UNH RESEARCHERS CREATE A HYDROGEL CONTACT LENS TO TREAT CORNEAL MELTING

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) have created a hydrogel that could one day be made into a contact lens to more effectively treat corneal melting, a condition that is a significant cause for blindness worldwide.

The incurable eye disease can be initiated by a number of different causes such as autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, or Stevens-Johnson syndrome), chemical burns, or even some surgical procedures (such as laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis [LASIK] and cataract procedures). The patient’s cornea melts due to the uncontrolled production of certain zinc-dependent enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) by the patient’s immune cells in the cornea. To help prevent this, the researchers developed a new hydrogel that deactivates those enzymes by removing the zinc ions.

There is a pending patent that has been filed by UNHInnovation. Funding for this research was provided by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and NIH Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). ■

ART OPTICAL OBTAINS MDSAP CERTIFICATION

Art Optical has announced that it has obtained Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) certification.

Recognizing that a global approach to auditing and monitoring the manufacturing of medical devices could improve their safety on an international scale, the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF) initiated the preparation for the MDSAP. In addition to the United States, the countries participating in this comprehensive approach to quality system auditing include Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Canada. MDSAP became mandatory for Class II, III, and IV medical devices in Canada as of Jan. 1, 2019. Art Optical successfully completed the certification assessment in July 2018, but due to regulatory backlog was only recently awarded the official certification notice.

Art Optical is also registered with Health Canada and maintains ISO 13485-2016 certification. ■

MYOPIA MEETING ANNOUNCED

The Global Council on Myopia Management announces its inaugural conference taking place this June 7 and 8 in Toronto. Offering more than 16 hours of approved continuing education credits, this conference will showcase internationally renowned myopia management speakers and industry leaders at the conference and trade show.

Additional information is available at http://myopiacouncil.org/conference/gcomm-2019 . ■

IACLE ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF AWARDS

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) announced the winners of the 2019 IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards, to recognize and reward achievement in contact lens education, and the 2019 IACLE Travel Awards, for members to attend major international meetings. This year’s awards will be presented at events around the world to mark IACLE’s 40th Anniversary.

Thanks to sponsorship from CooperVision—and co-sponsored by the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) and IACLE—three IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards will be presented, one for each of its three global regions. To receive their awards, winners will travel to the BCLA Clinical Conference in Manchester, United Kingdom. The 2019 IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year is Rubén Velázquez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City; IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year is Craig Woods, Deakin University in Victoria, Australia; and IACLE Europe/Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year is Fabrizio Zeri, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca in Milan.

This year, five IACLE Travel Awards—funded by all of IACLE’s industry sponsors (all awards) and co-sponsored by BCLA (one award) and the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE, one award)—will be presented. The 2019 IACLE Travel Awards recipients and the meetings that they will attend are Joseph Afonne, Mzuzu University in Mzuzu, Malawi, BCLA Clinical Conference & Exhibition; Fakhruddin Barodawala, SEGi University in Petaling Jaya in Malaysia, Asia Pacific Optometric Congress; Maheswari Srinivasan, Shri Prakash Institute of Optometry, Chennai in India, AOCLE Annual Workshop at the Pacific University in Oregon; Wan-Yun (Connie) Tsung, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei, Taiwan, Asia Pacific Optometric Congress; and MA Yuying, Wuxi Occupational Institute of Arts and Technology in Wuxi, China, Asia Pacific Optometric Congress. ■

COOPERVISION UNVEILS 2019 BEST PRACTICES HONOREES

Following a nationwide search for eyecare practices that elevate the profession through innovation, industry leadership, and patient experience, CooperVision has named its 2019 Best Practices honorees. Now in its fourth year, CooperVision’s Best Practices program recognizes and celebrates practices in the United States that go above and beyond to find ways to differentiate themselves and deliver extraordinary care to their patients, even in the face of increasing competition.

This year’s honorees are Azman Eye Care Specialists/Global Complex Eye Care – Timonium, MD; Briggs Vision Group – Dunwoody, GA; Drs. Quinn, Foster & Associates – Athens, OH; Lakeline Vision Source – Cedar Park, TX; Northeast Ohio Eye Surgeons – Kent, Stow, and Akron, OH; Shoreline Optometry – Mountain View, CA; Spring Hill Eyecare – Spring Hill, TN; Vancouver Vision Clinic – Vancouver, WA; Vision Source of Farr West – Farr West, UT; and West Shore Eye Care – Ludington, MI. To learn more about this year’s honorees, visit www.eyecarebestpractices.com . ■

ARVO STUDENT TRAVEL FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED

The American Academy of Optometry announced the recipients of its 2019 Student Travel Fellowship Awards. The travel fellowships, supported by Johnson and Johnson Vision Care Inc., will allow five students to present their research at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2019 annual meeting. The 2019 recipients and their respective schools are Suman Adhikari, BOptom, University of Houston; Moonjung Choi, MS, Indiana University; Justin Courson, University of Houston; Nicole Karson, University of Houston; and Natalie Stepien-Bernabe, University of California, Berkeley. ■

BHVIF RECEIVES DONATION

The Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation (BHVIF) announced that it has received a donation of $225,000—the largest single donation in the history of the foundation. The donation will be used to fund scholarships to train Aboriginal optometrists and providers of vision care services within regional areas of Australia.

The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has released the funds for use over the next three years.

The first scholarship will be dedicated to the late Professor Brien Holden in recognition of his work in building eyecare services for Indigenous Australians. It is the donor’s wish that the second scholarship be dedicated to Yvonne Holden, a tireless advocate for the Aboriginal community. ■

INDUSTRY BRIEFS

  • SynergEyes, Inc. announced that the SynergEyes VS scleral lens is now available with Tangible Hydra-PEG (Tangible Science) on Contamac material. SynergEyes VS lenses are now available in the United States in both Contamac Optimum Extreme material, with Tangible Hydra-PEG as an option, and in Menicon Z material, available with its own proprietary plasma treatment.
  • Nicox SA and Ocumension Therapeutics have entered into an exclusive license agreement for the development and commercialization of Nicox’s product Zerviate (cetirizine ophthalmic solution), 0.24% for the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis for a territory comprising mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Nicox and Ocumension recently also entered into a collaboration for the development and commercialization in the same territory of NCX 470 for patients who have glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Ocumension Therapeutics is an ophthalmology company funded by 6 Dimensions Capital, which was formed by the merger of Wuxi Healthcare Ventures and Frontline BioVentures.
  • Avedro, Inc. appointed Patrick B. Jacques as vice president of sales, effective immediately. Reporting to James Schuermann, Avedro’s chief business officer, Mr. Jacques will be responsible for directing Avedro’s U.S. sales strategy, building relationships with clinicians and other key partners, and contributing to Avedro’s marketing programs.
  • The American Academy of Optometry announced that Peter Scott, MBA, will assume the position of executive director of the organization in mid-April 2019. The Academy’s outgoing executive director, Lois Schoenbrun, will retire from her position at the end of April. Ms. Schoenbrun has been executive director of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Academy of Optometry Foundation since 1996. Mr. Scott most recently served as the COO for the North American Veterinary Community in Orlando, FL.
  • Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Vision announced the availability of Acuvue Oasys with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology in both the United States and Canada starting on April 1. The lens was developed in collaboration with Transitions Optical, Inc. Additional information about the lens features and its available parameters is included in the Product Spectrum on p. 48. J&J Vision has also collaborated with professional baseball player Bryce Harper to serve as an Acuvue Oasys with Transitions ambassador. He is wearing Acuvue Oasys with Transitions on the field during the 2019 season and sharing his firsthand experience through a video content series.
  • I-Med Pharma signed an exclusive agreement with DryCom for distribution of its I-Pen Tear Osmolarity System in Brazil. The I-Pen is a point-of-care, electronic diagnostic testing device to detect and indirectly measure the tear film osmolarity levels associated with marginal, mild, moderate, and severe dry eye disease. The I-Pen Osmolarity System, used in conjunction with the I-Pen Osmolarity Single-Use-Sensor (SUS), provides a quick and simple method for determining tear osmolarity from the tear-soaked palpebral conjunctiva, according to the company.
  • Bausch + Lomb has begun distributing its Lotemax SM (loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic gel) 0.38% to U.S. pharmaceutical distributors. The company received final approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Feb. 22, 2019. Lotemax SM is a corticosteroid indicated for the treatment of postoperative inflammation and pain following ocular surgery.
  • Asepticys LLC announced the submission of its 510k application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a contact lens care solution containing TriFlect technology, a patent-protected biocidal compound.
  • ABB Optical Group appointed Tom Calhoun as senior vice president of operations. According to the company, Mr. Calhoun will be responsible for streamlining ABB Optical Group’s business operations for enhanced efficiency and productivity along with aligning all aspects of the company’s operations to deliver best-in-class service to its customers. He comes to ABB Optical Group with nearly 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry.
  • The American Optometric Association (AOA) and Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation announced this year's inductees into the National Optometry Hall of Fame. Since 1998, the National Optometry Hall of Fame has recognized and honored doctors of optometry who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to the optometric profession. This year’s honorees are Murray Fingeret, OD; Donald Jarnagin, OD; Michael Mittelman, OD; and Glen Steele, OD. For more information about this year’s inductees, visit www.aoa.org/news/inside-optometry/2019-national-optometry-hall-of-fame-inductees .