Article Date: 9/1/2004

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

CONTACT LENS COMPANY GAINS GLOBAL SHARE
Cooper Purchase of OSI: "Strategic Fit"

The Cooper Companies, Inc. recently announced its plans to purchase Ocular Sciences Inc. (OSI) for approximately $1.2 billion. In an exclusive interview with Joseph Barr, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O., editor of OM's sister publication, Contact Lens Spectrum, CooperVision's Chief Executive Officer A. Thomas Bender said he believes the newly formed company will be the third largest in the industry, and immediately will be targeting the number two spot.

CooperVision currently is second in independent practice office visits, Bender said, and the OSI merger will expand the companies offering to all lens prescribers. CooperVision is number one and number two in market research image studies, says Bender. In contact lens development, Bender said that Cooper will continue to develop a nonsurface treated silicone hydrogel lens that will incorporate Cooper's Proclear lens. He added that a Proclear multifocal lens will soon be available as well.

From a strategic sales standpoint, OSI's strong presence in Japan and the Asia Pacific region gives CooperVision access to significant market share in the world's second largest contact lens market where CooperVision currently has a low market share. OSI's European operations complement CooperVision's strong British, French, Italian and Spanish businesses.

"This acquisition represents an ideal strategic fit for CooperVision," Bender said. At the close of the merger, CooperVision will pay approximately $600 million in cash and issue approximately 10.3 million shares of its common stock to OSI shareholders and option holders. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of CooperVision's 2005 fiscal year, which begins Nov. 1. CooperVision plans to have two-thirds of the integration between the companies completed by the end of the first year.

THE ANNUAL CEREMONY WILL TAKE PLACE IN CLEVELAND AT EASTWEST EYE CONFERENCE
Hall of Fame to Induct Six Optometrists

The National Optometry Hall of Fame will induct six new members during ceremonies on October 14, 2004 at the EastWest Eye Conference in Cleveland. Colleagues nominated the inductees for their experience and innovation in the field of optometry.

The 2004 inductees are: Anthony J. Adams, O.D., Ph.D., dean emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley; Jimmy Bartlett, O.D., D.O.S., Sc.D., prominent educator and researcher in ophthalmic pharmacology; Irving Bennett, O.D., well-known demographer of economic data; Joan Exfort, O.D., first woman president of the American Academy of Optometry; and Melvin Wolfberg, O.D., who served as president of the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of Optometry and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. The Hall of Fame will induct Frank Brazelton, O.D., posthumously.

B&L will market the corneal reshaping lens.

B&L WILL EXPAND DISTRIBUTION
GP Material Available for Ortho-K

Bausch & Lomb announced that its patented Boston Equalens II gas permeable lens material is now available for orthokeratology treatment. The company acquired the FDA Premarket Approval application for the overnight ortho-k indication issued in June 2004 to Euclid Systems Corp., which conducted clinical trials using B&L's Equalens II GP lens material. B&L said that it plans to expand distribution of the lens material to other Boston-authorized manufacturers over the next few months to coincide with the early fall commercial launch of the Equalens II material to U.S. eyecare professionals.

 

Allergan Names Vice Presidents

Allergan last month appointed Scott Whitcup, M.D., to executive vice president, Research and Development. Dr. Whitcup was instrumental in gaining the FDA approvals for eyecare products Lumigan and Restasis. He was also a "key strategist," the company says, in the acquisition and integration of Ocular Pharmaceuticals. Previously, Dr. Whitcup served as the clinical director of the National Eye Institute.

In other business, Allergan named Joseph Schultz Senior Vice President of its U.S. ophthalmology business unit. Mr. Schultz recently joined the company from Johnson & Johnson.

OM on the Web

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

SMALL SOUTHEASTER LABS FORM COALITION
Independent Labs Band Together

Nexus Vision, a new coalition of 12 independent laboratories based in the Southeastern United States, will produce two premium anti-reflective lenses at its facility in Columbus, Ohio.

The lenses include the NVision and the NVision Plus, which boasts superior "oleophobicity," so fingerprints and smudges wipe off easily.

According to representatives, Nexus Vision will provide the coalition labs with new and emerging technologies that they wouldn't be able to afford individually. Nexus will reduce coalition members' costs and delivery times for premium lenses, ultimately allowing members to compete against larger wholesale labs. Each coalition lab processes between 75 and 350 jobs each day.

As part of its strategy, Nexus Vision plans to offer lens surfacing in the future. The Nexus facility is located in the Optical Village, an Ohio business community that concentrates on lens manufacturing and delivery.

HEALTH Notes

Link Between Hypoglycemic Rats and Diabetic Eye Disease

Scientists from Oxford University in the UK measured the effects of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) on rats that had eye injury because of low blood flow. In the June 2004 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology, they reported that in tissue cultures, hypoglycemia increased the amount of nerve cell death that occurred when oxygen was unavailable (which can occur with low blood flow). Besides that, retinal function was more impaired in hypoglycemic rats than in other rats. The researchers noted that the eye injury they observed in hypoglycemic rats was considerably more severe than that of other rats. They also reported that when low blood flow occurs, cells often become more reliant on sugar as an energy source, so if sugar levels are low, then the cells may not be able to meet their energy requirements, possibly resulting in cell death. This explains why diabetic eye disease often gets worse when patients are first getting their sugar levels under control and low levels are more likely to occur.

She Says Tomato, He Says Red

In an analysis of the DNA of 236 men from around the globe, researchers from Arizona State University found that the gene that allows people to see the color red (OPN1LW) comes in different variations. OPN1LW sits on the X chromosome, of which women have two (one from each parent), but men have one X and one Y. In effect, women have two different "copies" of the gene and the fact that so many variations of the gene exist may aid women's perception of the red-orange spectrum. The researchers' findings, which they report in the September 2004 issue of American Journal of Human Genetics, may help explain why women see and identify more different shades of red than do men.

O.D. NOTEBOOK
COMPANY NEWS

Paragon ad on the Web. Paragon Vision Sciences placed an advertorial on AllAboutVision.com for its Paragon CRT (corneal refractive therapy) lens. After learning about Paragon CRT, prospective patients can link to a practitioner database at paragoncrt.com.

PEOPLE & PROMOTIONS

Talia president resigns. Ted Newill resigned last month from Talia Vision Technology Inc. after three years as the company's president.

AMO hires Hansen. Advanced Medical Optics hired David Hansen, O.D., as director, professional services. Dr. Hansen most recently ran a solo practice in Des Moines, Iowa. As director, he will be responsible for interfacing with national, state and local optometric/ophthalmic organizations and he will act as a liaison with optometry schools

ORGANIZATION NEWS

VCA gets political. The Vision Council of America (VCA) has launched "Eyelection 2004," a campaign to educate candidates for U.S. Congress and generate support for eye exams. The goal, says VCA spokesperson Joseph LaMountain, is "to make sure that the issue of vision care for children didn't fall off the radar screen between now and the time Congress returns in January 2005."

COMING TO AMERICA
Glaucoma Drug Enters U.S. Market

Ista Pharmaceuticals recently launched its glaucoma drug Istalol (timolol maleate ophthalmic solution 0.5%) to the U.S. market ahead of schedule, the company says. The once-daily liquid formulation of timolol began shipping to wholesalers and warehousing chains last month. Ista says that it has a dedicated, 28-person sales staff ready to get the word out about the therapeutic.

Ista holds exclusive marketing rights to Istalol in the United States through an agreement with developer Senju Pharmaceuticals Co. of Japan.

O2OPTIX, AQuify 5 Minute MPS New from CIBA

CIBA Vision recently introduced its new O2OPTIX silicone hydrogel contact lens for daily wear. The lens offers oxygen transmissibility of 138 Dk/t @ ­3.00 -- five times more oxygen than the leading soft contact lens and 62% higher than the next daily wear silicone hydrogel lens, CIBA says. CIBA will offer it in a single base curve (8.6mm) in spherical powers from ­1.00D to ­6.00D, and will expand the range next year. The company is also seeking approval for overnight wear, as well as readying a toric version for release. CIBA says it will price the O2OPTIX competitively for the two-week market.

CIBA also introduced AQuify 5 Minute Multi-Purpose Solution (MPS). AQuify 5 Minute MPS users can rapidly and effectively care for their soft contact lenses with the solution's 10-second rub and five-minute soak. The solution also addresses contact lens discomfort and lens dryness.

THE MARRIOTT TEACHES O.D.S A VALUABLE LESSON
Be Good On the Basics
By Bob Levoy, O.D.

"The most important thing," says J.W. Marriott, founder of the Marriott Corporation, "is to serve the hot food hot and the cold food cold."

He's talking, of course, about the importance of basics -- and it's as true about optometric service as it is about food service. You may have sunk a fortune into the design of your office; have the newest and best equipment on the market -- but if you and your staff don't deliver on what patients consider the basics of good service, you've missed the boat. Big time.

What are the basics? They're the fundamental things that decide whether or not patients pay their bills cheerfully and promptly. Remain loyal to your practice. Refer others to you.

Marriott identified its basics by analyzing the results of a comprehensive guest survey. They learned that guests' intent to return rests on five critical factors: Everything is clean and works; check-in is hassle-free; staff is friendly and helpful; problems are resolved quickly; and breakfast is served on time.

When Marriott fails to deliver on these basic expectations, guests have an unsatisfactory stay at a Marriott hotel. And no amount of mints on the pillow will bring back a guest who had to wait 30 minutes to check in, whose bathroom was dirty, and whose breakfast was overcooked and late in coming.

Action steps: Decide with your staff what basic services matter most to your patients. Use the following statement and fill in the blanks: "Nothing else matters if we don't ______ or aren't _______."

This is one of the exercises I have seminar audiences do. Answers have included: Address patient's chief complaint; be available for emergencies; be on time for appointments; have a high-tech office; have a meticulously clean office; answer patients' questions.

Be good on the basics and patients will tolerate almost anything else. Screw up on the basics and nothing else matters. Patients won't return. Period.

Clear Vision hits the Web

Clear Vision Optical introduced its Web site, www.cvoptical.com, to educate its customers about all the products, promotions, marketing and support tools available to them. The site also offers an online catalog, displaying frames and sunglass models from Clear Vision collections by Kenneth Cole New York, Izod Eyes, Izod Kids, Jessica McClintock, Op and Save the Children brands, among others.

CL RX OBLIGATIONS
FTC Contact Lens Rule Takes Effect

The new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Contact Lens Rule, which implements the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) took full effect on August 2, 2004. The new FTC rule, officially called the "Contact Lens Rule," closely adheres to the FCLCA, as is legally required for all rules authorized by a controlling statute. Following are some of the stipulations included in the Contact Lens Rule:

DEFINITY EXPANDS
Progressive Lens Available to More Presbyopes

The Spectacle Lens Group of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care expanded the prescription range in its polycarbonate offering of the progressive Definity Lenses. The prescription range is now +4.00D to ­7.00D in sphere range and ­0.25D to ­4.00D in cylinder range. Additionally, the new polycarbonate lens also features an add range of +1.00D to +3.00D; prescribed prism range of up to +6.00D; and lens diameter of 78 mm.

Definity features the company's "breakthrough" technology that enhances the visual field of presbyopes by maximizing the available design space of the lens.

KNOW THY PATIENT
Latest News in Patient Purchasing Trends

According to Customer Focus 2004: Optical, a study conducted by advertising and media company Vertis, 33% of eyewear users purchase their prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses from a private doctor, compared with 29% at local optical stores, 15% at discount stores and 13% at national optical stores.

"The results demonstrate the importance of quality for consumers and marketers should recognize their willingness to spend more money for the best value," Vertis said.

The company surveyed 3,000 adults for its annual survey in August and September of 2003.

 


Optometric Management, Issue: September 2004