Novartis announces merger proposal for Alcon

NEW YORK With an eye to the future, Novartis brass envisions a growth arena driven by the aging Boomer population — eye care, along with all of the products, medicines and surgeries associated with eye care.

While a small part of the overall eye-care platform, Alcon provides a portfolio of contact lens care products, over-the-counter dry eye drops and ocular vitamins (more than $800,000 in 2008 sales), while Novartis has long-standing activities in contact lenses, a sector in which Alcon is not active, and a complementary ophthalmic pharmaceuticals portfolio. At the end of 2008, Alcon captured a 37% marketshare in all contact lens care solution sales, according to the company, as compared to 33% for competing brands and 30% for private label.

Alcon’s portfolio of specialty medicines includes pharmaceutical remedies for glaucoma and conditions in the front of the eye such as infections and allergies. Strong growth has come from new product introductions and global expansion, particularly in Japan, where three new medicines have been launched since 2006. Alcon’s pharmaceutical portfolio generated $2.6 billion in 2008 sales.

And Alcon is one of the global leaders in cataract and vitreoretinal surgery, offering a portfolio of medical devices and ophthalmic surgery products that generated 2008 sales of $2.9 billion.

After the merger, the new Novartis eye care division will include Alcon, CIBA Vision and selected ophthalmic medicines.

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