Novartis’ eye care unit, Alcon, has bought Transcend Medical to acquire the company’s minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) devices. The news follows Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez’s January comment that Alcon has a “gap here that we’re going to need to supplement.”
Last quarter, struggling Alcon saw sales plummet by 13 percent to $2.3 billion. The acquisition is the first to be made under new leadership by former Hospira CEO, Mike Ball. Eye care competitor Allergan, acquired AqueSys – a company developing micro-stents for glaucoma – for $300 million last September.
California-based Transcend’s major offering is its CyPass Micro-Stent, which has already recieved a CE mark. The micro-stent can be implanted during cataract removal surgery, and Novartis says it can treat less advanced glaucoma by “enhancing part of the natural drainage pathways of the eye with minimal tissue disruption.” Twenty percent of patients undergoing cataract surgery reportedly also have glaucoma, according to Trancend’s website.
“We expect the MIGS technology to be a great addition to our device pipeline and to establish Alcon’s presence in this new surgical category to treat glaucoma,” said Ball. “If approved, it will provide a less invasive means of lowering IOP than traditional invasive glaucoma surgery, with the goal of lowering the dependency of topical ocular medication. This acquisition also expands Alcon’s leadership in glaucoma and cataract treatment as part of our surgical business.”
Transcend conducted an 897-patient clinical trial and found the micro-stent met its primary endpoint of reducing intraocular pressure by over 20 percent. Since the clinical trial win, the company has submitted a Premarket Approval Application (PMA) to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the device.
If this recent acquisition fails to improve Alcon’s market performance, it’s been rumored that Novartis may launch the eye care division as a separate entity. In 2015, Novartis announced plans to test its intelligent glucose-monitoring contact lens – in development with Google Life Sciences re-brand, Verily – this year.
According to FiercePharmaMarketing, Alcon plans to invest $200 million in marketing capital to drive sales of their traditional contact lenses. Alcon faces fierce competition in the eye care space, from major players including Valeant’s Bausch + Lomb, Johnson & Johnson’s Vision Care and CooperVision.