ABB OPTICAL GROUP REORGANIZES SERVICES UNDER THREE BUSINESS GROUPS
ABB Optical Group announced that it has reorganized its services and solutions into three new groups: ABB Contact Lens, ABB Labs, and ABB Business Solutions.
ABB Contact Lens is an authorized distributor for all major soft contact lens manufacturers and is a manufacturer of custom soft and GP lenses. ABB Labs offers eyecare practitioners (ECPs) fabrication of a wide selection of brand-name digital lens designs and anti-reflective (AR) coatings as well as its own proprietary products. ABB Labs’ fully automated laboratories feature multiple fabrication lines and onsite AR coating capabilities as well as lens finishing centers and frames distribution.
ABB Business Solutions provides ECPs with operational solutions to help them attract and retain patients and drive efficiencies in their practices, according to the company. The company will collaborate with industry leaders to offer new products and services to its ECP customers. In addition, this group also features a practice performance optimization platform, vision care benefits optimization system, patient communication system, an automated contact lens reordering platform, and other services.
The five new solutions supporting ECPs are ABB Analyze, powered by Glimpse, which is a practice performance and dashboard analytics software; ABB AutoShip, which gives patients the convenience to order and receive their contact lenses when and where it works for them; ABB Educate, which provides online and in-person training for ECPs and optical staff; ABB Verify, which provides benefits and managed care verification technology; and ABB Connect, which is a loyalty-driving marketplace platform. ■
GLOBAL CONTACT LENS FORUM AT VISION EXPO WEST
On Sept. 18, close to 300 people attended the Global Contact Lens Forum, a free program that preceded Vision Expo West. Thomas G. Quinn, OD, MS, moderated the opening panel session titled “The Business of Specialty Contact Lenses: How to Start, Grow and Thrive in the 21st Century.” Panelists included Pam Lowe, OD; Brooke Messer, OD; Jason R. Miller, OD, MBA; and Chris Smiley, OD. The panelists agreed that getting your entire staff involved with portions of the exams or contact lens fittings was a big key to success. In the next session, “Effective and Efficient Use of Technology in Practice: Grand Rounds,” the same participants presented cases that highlighted the use of technologies to diagnose their patients’ ocular surface conditions. Dr. Smiley finished the program by reviewing applicable billing and coding requirements for contact lens fitting.
In addition, during a breakfast that was sponsored by CooperVision, Mark A. Bullimore, MCOptom, PhD, presented a lecture that asked whether the benefits of myopia management outweigh the risks of putting children into contact lenses. Attendees were also treated to a lunch and learn session that was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision and Bausch + Lomb. ■
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J&J TO RECALL SOME LENSES IN TAIWAN
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Co. announced that it will recall 500 boxes/six batches of its Acuvue daily disposable contact lenses from the Taiwan market due to possible quality problems, according to Taiwan’s Food and Drugs Administration.
The company’s notice said that the problematic products were found to have irregularities from the manufacturer’s production line on the surface of the lenses and in the lens solution. Therefore, the company decided to initiate a recall of the products from Taiwan. So far, no consumers have reported being affected by the defective products.
Affected lenses have the following lot numbers: 3957490106, 3957490109, 3957500101, 3957500102, 3957500109, and 3957510105. ■
WALGREENS SETTLES CONTACT LENS PRICE FIXING CLASS ACTION SUIT
Walgreens and Vision Direct recently agreed to settle antitrust class action claims against them, leaving 1-800 Contacts as the only remaining defendant in the litigation. In light of the settlement, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead issued an order that will stay all deadlines for Walgreens and Vision Direct. The details of the settlement are not currently available, but the motion for a stay notes that the settlement will include a “monetary payment plus specified cooperation.”
Plaintiffs filed their antitrust class action lawsuit against 1-800 Contacts, Walgreens, Vision Direct, and other companies in Oct. 2016. The plaintiffs alleged that the companies were involved in an antitrust scheme that suppressed competition and fixed the online prices of contact lenses.
The contact lens antitrust class action was prompted by a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint against 1-800 Contacts claiming that the agreements gave the company unfair advantages in advertising. ■
B+L FILES PROPOSED SETTLEMENT IN PRICING LAWSUIT
Bausch + Lomb (B+L) will pay $10 million to consumers who allege that the contact lens company conspired with others to raise prices of soft lenses. The proposed settlement agreement states that B+L denies violating any laws and maintains that its conduct was proper.
The consumers argue that B+L, along with Alcon, Johnson & Johnson, and CooperVision, conspired with each other to stop the discounting of reusable contact lenses, which would ensure that retailers would charge a minimum price for the lenses. The plaintiffs also allege that the companies threatened retailers who sold the lenses below a mandated price. If the retailers did not abide by these terms, the companies would impose a restriction on their supply to them. In addition, the contact lens class action claims that the companies created a Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP) that was used to fix the prices of the contact lenses. The company claims that the UPPs in relation to the B+L lenses have been stopped and are no longer in effect.
According to the proposed settlement agreement, B+L will put the $10 million into an escrow account within 14 days of preliminary approval, and the plaintiffs will have the right to terminate the settlement agreement if this doesn’t happen. ■
GSLS SPOTLIGHT: APP UPDATED
The Global Specialty Lens Symposium (GSLS) is excited to announce the launch of the 2020 GSLS App. Attendees can use this app onsite to create a personal agenda, map out visits to their favorite exhibitors, provide feedback, interact with speakers and sessions, and more! You can download the app on the Apple Store or Google Play Store by searching “PentaVision Conferences.” Once you register, you will be provided information on how to login to your account.
AOA PUSHES FOR FDA RECALL OF 1-800 CONTACTS’ ONLINE VISION TEST
The American Optometric Association (AOA) is asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a product recall of 1-800 Contacts’ online vision test, in light of what the AOA considers recent comparable action against Visibly’s “strikingly similar” online eye test.
On Aug. 8, the FDA posted a recall notice for Visibly’s device because of a “lack of 510(k) clearance.” For more than three years prior to the recall, the AOA had pushed the issue with the FDA due to concerns that the test marketed by Visibly potentially posed serious health risks to the public and did not comply with federal law.
Similar to Visibly, 1-800 Contacts appears to have neither applied for premarket clearance for its ExpressExam online eye test nor met the standard of being substantially equivalent as a legally marketed visual acuity test, according to the AOA. In light of this, the AOA recommends that the FDA should not permit the continued marketing of the 1-800 Contacts device until the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) has reviewed the safety and efficacy issues raised by the device.
This is not the first time that the AOA has complained to a federal agency about 1-800 Contacts’ marketing and safety. For example, this past spring, 1-800 Contacts changed how it marketed its online eye test after the AOA complained about the name of the device to the Federal Trade Commission, specifically its use of the term “exam” in the name of the device. ■
J&J ISSUES VOLUNTARY RECALL FOR CERTAIN CONTACT LENSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
Users of certain Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Acuvue daily disposable contact lenses are being urged by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to check their lenses due to a voluntary product recall of specific lots initiated by the company in the United Kingdom. The recall affects a low level of the stock of certain lots of 1-Day Acuvue Moist for Astigmatism lenses. If not already contacted, customers should return these lenses to their supplier.
The affected lots may have particles on the contact lens or in the contact lens blister solution. If the particles are not noticed before application, this could cause eye redness or discomfort or corneal abrasion. There have been no reports of serious adverse events to date.
J&J has notified affected eyecare practitioners, recalled the affected lots, and has instructed those practitioners to contact patients who may have received the affected product. Contact lens users who are concerned should speak to their eyecare practitioner. A full list of affected lots can be found on the MHRA website at https://mhra-gov.filecamp.com/s/o8lmdsTtNpvHRxHq/d . ■
CONTACT LENS SPECTRUM LAUNCHES RESIDENTS PROGRAM
Contact Lens Spectrum (CLS) is pleased to announce that it is teaming up with residents and post-graduate students to offer them valuable experience in trade journal publishing as well as the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge on the latest information in CLS. Participants will assist the CLS editors with reviewing the clinical information and references of manuscripts submitted for publication. This will enable them to broaden their knowledge in the topic areas, and it will also help ensure that CLS is presenting its readers with the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Participants of our inaugural program include:
Jason Christman, OD, primary care optometry resident, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX
Gabriella Courey, OD, MSc candidate – Cornea and Contact Lens, École d’optométrie, Université de Montréal
Marc Deeley, OD, medically necessary contact lens fellow, Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary
Mari Fujimoto, OD, cornea and contact lens resident, Pacific University College of Optometry
Amrit Jawanda, OD, cornea and contact lens resident, The New England College of Optometry
Courtney Melchione, OD, ocular surface and contact lens resident, Specialty Eyecare Group, Seattle, WA
Nicole Poon, OD, cornea and contact lens resident, Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Duc M. Tran, OD, medical contact lens fellow, Ophthalmology, Casey Eye Institute Waterfront, Center for Health and Healing, Portland, OR
Rosa Yang, OD, University of Waterloo
Fiona Yuan, OD, primary care optometry resident, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX ■
COOPERVISION SEEKS SUBMISSIONS FOR 2020 BEST PRACTICES HONOREES
CooperVision, Inc. announced its fifth annual search for the nation’s 2020 Best Practices. All U.S. optometry practices currently fitting contact lenses are eligible to apply. Best Practices candidates are encouraged to submit practice profiles and stories, sharing their insights and experiences in the following areas: “Innovation” will be evaluated on contributions to the betterment of eye health and education, leveraging technology in meaningful ways to grow the practice, and advancing the eyecare profession among the public; “Industry Leadership” will be rated on how a practice advances the profession and leads the industry regionally, nationally, and even globally; and “Patient Experience” will be judged on how a practice delivers excellent eyecare experiences and education to its patients and on unique aspects of patient care in which it leads. Candidates can submit their stories via written response at EyeCareBestPractices.com/applying through Nov. 21, 2019. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges including past Best Practices honorees, industry experts, and CooperVision leaders.
Honorees are also brought together at the annual Best Practices Summit, which provides a forum for education and collaboration on a variety of practice management and clinical practice topics. New this year, CooperVision also announced a Best Practices scholarship program, which will provide third-year optometry students with the opportunity to attend the educational summit. ■
- Blanchard Contact Lenses announced its recent hire of Candace Bevil, LDO, NCLE, COT, ABO. She is responsible for establishing and nurturing professional relationships with eyecare providers in the Southeast region of the United States, while also providing them with fitting consultation for Blanchard’s scleral and GP lens portfolio.
- ABB Optical Group announced its expansion into the Canadian market beginning in 2020. The company will start its expansion by servicing FYidoctors, a doctor-owned provider of eye care and ophthalmic products and services in Canada, and FYidoctors’ Independent Alliance clinics.
- IDOC, Zeiss Vision Care US, and Zeiss Medical Technology announced a five-year agreement to bring Zeiss’ lab services, lens products, and medical equipment—including Zeiss UVProtect Technology, Zeiss DriveSafe lenses, Zeiss Clarus 700, Zeiss Cirrus HD-OCT, and more—to all 3,000+ IDOC independent optometrists across the United States.
- Myco Industries, Inc. announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent for the AB Max, a new treatment for anterior blepharitis. The AB Max features forward and reverse functionality as well as a patented pulse mode that is specifically engineered to remove even the most tenacious scurf and debris, while massaging the outer eyelid margins, according to Myco.
- Visioneering Technologies, Inc. (VTI) has entered into a definitive agreement with Menicon Co., Ltd. through NKL Contactlenzen, B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary. Under the agreement, VTI will supply its NaturalVue Multifocal 1 Day Contact Lenses in Menicon-branded packaging for sale and distribution in Europe. The lenses will be packaged as Menicon Bloom Day Contact Lenses for Myopia Progression Control. In related news, VTI announced its first sale in Asia after recently securing a Certificate of Listing in Hong Kong that includes pediatric myopia progression control. Fulfillment of VTI’s products in Hong Kong is being handled by VTI’s distribution partners, Corneal Lens Corporation NZ and its affiliate Corneal Lens Centre Australia.
- Eyeris closed its second round of funding and secured U.S. Food and Drug Administration market clearance for its new daily disposable contact lens, which will be available in January 2020. The Eyeris lens will be available through a wide network of independent optometrists. It is a daily disposable lens manufactured in hioxifilcon A. It has a base curve of 8.5mm and a diameter of 14.3mm.
- CooperVision announced plans to expand the parameters of its Clariti 1 Day Toric by adding additional axes, some of which will be available in December 2019 and the rest in spring 2020.
In unrelated news, two CooperVision sites in Europe have been awarded certifications for their sustainable design and operation. Its new Southampton, England secondary packaging and distribution facility has earned a BREEAM ”Excellent” rating. And, its new distribution center in Madrid, Spain has earned LEED Certification. Both sites employ a combination of renewable energy sources.
- TecLens, a medical device manufacturer, and Servimed Industrial Spa, an ophthalmic medical devices manufacturer and distributor, announced their partnership aimed at development and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance of a new combination product to treat keratoconus. The new product under development will combine TecLens’ CXLens “on-eye” cross-linking system for corneal remodeling with Servimed’s trans-epithelial Ribocross riboflavin drug formulation. TecLens and Servimed will pursue FDA clearance for the combination product of CXLens/Ribocross to treat keratoconus. Servimed’s Ribocross holds an FDA orphan drug designation for its proprietary riboflavin formulation for the treatment of keratoconus in patients undergoing corneal cross-linking procedures.
- Professional Eye Care Associates of America (PECAA), a nationwide doctor alliance group, launched its new association health plan. Member practices will leverage the buying power of the larger organization to purchase health care benefits for their practitioners, staff, and families at competitive rates, regardless of practice size. PECAAHP, as the plan is being called, is a private, non-profit, level-funded benefits plan offered through the Aetna network. PECAAHP will offer multiple medical plans to choose from, including preferred provider organization (PPO) and health savings account (HSA) options. Members and non-members alike can get a free, no-obligation quote.
- Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) has named Tim Fricke as acting executive director of BHVI’s social enterprise delivering improved eyecare to those most in need in Australia and across the world. He will manage the team while Leigh Cleave, BHVI executive director, is traveling for the next year. Mr. Fricke is a senior research fellow with BHVI. He has held management and leadership roles in private, public, and community health.