Article Date: 8/1/2004

practice pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

DOCS ALLEGE UNFAIR BUSINESS CLIMATE
Maryland Optometrists Sue Vision Plan

The Maryland Optometric Association (MOA) has sued CareFirst BlueCross/BlueShield and Davis Vision, alleging that the companies have created an unfair business climate in Maryland by favoring large retailers.

Davis Vision, the administrator of the eyecare plan for CareFirst, would reimburse large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Pearle Vision for frames, lenses and dispensing fees, while independent optometrists would be reimbursed a dispensing fee only, says the MOA. This would force independent doctors to use Davis Vision products and labs, which the MOA calls unfair. The large retailers, labeled as a "preferred class" by the MOA, would be free to use the labs of their choice.

A statement from Davis Vision calls the suit "baseless" and contends that it "attacks a program that is legal, cost effective and beneficial."

The suit stems from a recent agreement where CareFirst would consolidate its vision care services under Davis Vision, beginning Oct. 1, 2004, for all CareFirst members in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The suit seeks damages and injunctive relief to stop harm to consumers, the MOA and to eyecare professionals. The MOA is concerned that optometrists and opticians may be driven out of business as a result of the sole source contract, said Dr. Michael Sless, MOA president.

Ronald L. Zarrella (right), B&L chairman and chief executive officer and Paul G. Howes, B&L senior vice president and president of the Americas Region honor Dr. Karla Zadnick at the recent American Optometric Association Congress as part of B&L's Visionaries Recognition Awards program. 

2004 Visionaries
B&L Honors Practitioners

Bausch & Lomb honored Karla Zadnik, O.D., Ph.D., of Ohio State University, as one of it's five Visionaries for 2004. B&L established the Visionaries Recognition Award program to commemorate its 150th anniversary by honoring ECPs who embody the highest ideals and personify the company's commitment to "perfecting vision, enhancing life."

B&L also presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Irvin Borish, O.D., the noted educator, author and inventor, whose textbook, Clinical Refraction, became the standard for optometric education.

B&L will distribute a total of $150,000 in donations to vision-related, nonprofit organizations chosen by the Visionaries. Other recipients are Eleanor E. Faye, M.D.; Bradley R. Staatsma, M.D.; Michael T. Trese, M.D.; and George O. Waring, M.D.

OM on the Web

This month on the web only at www.optometricmanagement.com:

AGENCIES JOIN FORCES TO ELIMINATE BLINDNESS
WCO/WHO Make It Official

The World Health Organization's (WHO's) executive board voted unanimously to admit the World Council of Optometry (WCO) into official relations with the organization. The WCO is one of only 189 groups worldwide to be currently in official relations with the WHO and is thus far the only optometric organization to have this designation.

"This is an historic opportunity that will enable the optometric community to directly contribute to the mainstream of international public health," WCO President Damien P. Smith, AM, MScOptom, Ph.D., F.A.A.O., said. "We look forward to working with them as part of a global partnership that will play a significant role in Vision 2020: The Right to Sight initiative."

Vision 2020: The Right to Sight is a collaborative effort between the WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and its constituent members to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness by 2020.

www.preventmyopia.com

Interested in nipping myopia in the bud? The International Myopia Prevention Association recently launched a new Web site, www.preventmyopia.com, to help you do just that. The site features animation and narration explaining how myopia occurs and recommends an alternative to prescribing glasses to correct distance vision. 

IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE
Gerber Coburn to Leave OK

Gerber Scientific will close its Gerber Coburn plant in Muskogee, Okla., by April 2005, relocating operations mainly to its Connecticut location. The move to centralize will enable the company to improve customer service by leveraging Gerber Scientific Operations (the company's shared services unit) and third-party service providers.

Gerber Scientific anticipates that the move will result in charges of up to $3.4 million, which will generate approximately $1.3 million in savings this fiscal year and approximately $3 million of annual savings thereafter. The decision to close the Muskogee plant is consistent with a broad range of initiatives underway throughout the company.

Transition Kids Rock AOA

Transition's "Kids Rock and Block" fashion party at the recent American Optometric Association annual Congress (above) launched new children's research focusing on healthy vision. Madeline L. Romeu, O.D., (center) discussed how recent research on factors affecting lens preferences among children complement Transitions' training module, "Providing Children with Ocular Protection and Healthy Vision."

 

www.procare.cibavision.com

CIBA Vision says its new Web site provides convenient assistance to eyecare practitioners 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The site features detailed product information for all CIBA lenses and lens care products, including parameter guides and fitting tips; a lens care selection guide; and professional management and training resources. ProCare also offers a calendar listing company-sponsored events and exhibits, and a registration area for receiving updates on new products and services.

O.D. NOTEBOOK

COMPANY NEWS

l Cooper to purchase OSI. At press time, Optometric Management learned that the Cooper Companies, Inc. announced it will purchase Ocular Sciences, Inc. (OSI) for approximately $1.2 billion. When the transaction is completed, Cooper's CooperVision unit will become the world's third largest contact lens company.

l AMO acquires Pfizer/Pharmacia surgical. Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) completed its acquisition of the Pfizer/Pharmacia ophthalmic surgical business in a $450 million all-cash transaction. AMO expects combined 2005 revenue from its existing business and the acquired Pfizer ophthalmic surgical business to range between $800 million and $830 million.

l B&L battles pediatric blindness. Bausch & Lomb (B&L) recently unveiled its SilSoft Pediatric Patient Assistance Program, designed to ease the costs of care needy families who have infants born with cataracts. The program will provide free lenses to families at or below the federal poverty level.

l Vision insurance program for small businesses. Sam's Club launched The Sam's Club Vision Care Program, designed to help its small business members offer affordable optical coverage to employees. The program is available to all Sam's Club Business Plus members nationwide.

PEOPLE & PROMOTIONS

l Changes at Hoya. Hoya Vision Care's CEO, Yasuro Mori, will take a new position with the company in Japan. Silvano Ghirardi will leave his positions as president and COO by year's end and Gerry Bottero, currently the CEO of Hoya Corp. USA, will become the CEO of Hoya Vision Care.

l Sear to leave Alcon. Alcon chairman, president and CEO Tim Sear will retire as president and CEO effective Oct. 1.

B&L To Pay Royalties on Contact Lenses
B&L, CIBA Settle Patent Dispute

According to the terms of a final settlement agreement that Bausch & Lomb and CIBA Vision reached last month, the companies will cross-license rights to their silicone hydrogel contact lens technologies. B&L will pay CIBA a royalty in net U.S. sales of its PureVision brand contact lenses until 2014 and on net sales outside the United States until 2016. B&L may resume sale and manufacture of PureVision lenses domestically on April 27, 2005, upon expiration of the Harvey patent (subject of a 2002 ruling in the Federal District Court in Delaware). PureVision will remain available outside the United States; CIBA's Focus Night & Day contact lenses continue to be available worldwide.

The agreement is effective immediately and resolves patent lawsuits in the United States as well as lawsuits in Germany, Ireland, the European Patent Office and Australia.

CIBA says that part of the settlement royalties will go to the Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology, the Australian group that helped develop silicone hydrogel contact lens technology, for developing new ways of bringing vision care the people who are visually impaired because they lack glasses or contact lenses.

Health Notes

High-Fat Diet May Affect Glaucoma Development

Two recent, large studies suggest that diets high in n-6 and low in n-3 polyunsaturated fats may offer some protection against developing glaucoma, although further studies are needed. Researchers at Harvard University examined the dietary fat intake in relation to glaucoma in 76,000 women and 40,000 men. All participants were free of glaucoma when the studies began and the researchers followed them for at least 10 years. Four hundred and seventy-four cases of primary open-angle glaucoma occurred among the subjects and researchers found a "suggestive" association between a higher ratio of n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fat and primary open-angle glaucoma.

Retinal Cells for Parkinson's Therapy

The standard treatment for Parkinson's is a drug called levodopa, which replaces the brain chemical dopamine. RUSH University Medical Center neurosurgeon Roy Bakay, M.D., is implanting retinal cells from the back of the eye, which produce pigment in the eyes, in Parkinson's patients. (Levodopa is a by-product of that pigment.) Once implanted, those cells produce levodopa in a much smoother delivery. Studies using retinal cells showed that patients' movement improved up to 50% and daily living skills and mental outlook also improved.

 



Optometric Management, Issue: August 2004