Alcon, Google to co-develop contact lenses that help manage diabetes and vision care
BASEL, Switzerland — Novartis on Tuesday announced that its eye care division Alcon has entered into an agreement with a division of Google to in-license its “smart lens” technology for all ocular medical uses. The agreement with Google[x], a team within Google that is devoted to finding new solutions to global problems, provides Alcon with the opportunity to develop and commercialize Google’s “smart lens” technology with the potential to transform eye care and further enhance Alcon’s pipeline and global leadership in contact lenses and intraocular lenses.
The transaction remains subject to anti-trust approvals.
The agreement between Google and Alcon represents an important step for Novartis, across all of its divisions, to leverage technology to manage human diseases and conditions. Google's key advances in the miniaturization of electronics complement Novartis's deep pharmaceuticals and medical device expertise. Novartis aims to enhance the ways in which diseases are mapped within the body and ultimately prevented.
“We are looking forward to working with Google to bring together their advanced technology and our extensive knowledge of biology to meet unmet medical needs,” said Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez. “This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye.”
“Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” said Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google. “We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true."
Under the agreement, Google[x] and Alcon will collaborate to develop a “smart lens” that has the potential to address ocular conditions. The smart lens technology involves noninvasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics that are embedded within contact lenses. Novartis’ interest in this technology is currently focused in two areas:
- Helping diabetic patients manage their disease by providing a continuous, minimally invasive measurement of the body’s glucose levels via a “smart contact lens,” which is designed to measure tear fluid in the eye and connects wirelessly with a mobile device; and
- For people living with presbyopia who can no longer read without glasses, the “smart lens” has the potential to provide accommodative vision correction to help restore the eye’s natural autofocus on near objects in the form of an accommodative contact lens or intraocular lens as part of the refractive cataract treatment.
The agreement marries Google’s expertise in miniaturized electronics, low-power chip design and microfabrication with Alcon’s expertise in physiology and visual performance of the eye, clinical development and evaluation, as well as commercialization of contact and intraocular lenses. Through the collaboration, Alcon seeks to accelerate product innovation based on Google’s “smart lens” technology.
“Alcon and Google have a deep and common passion for innovation,” said Jeff George, division head of Alcon. “By combining Alcon’s leadership in eye care and expertise in contact lenses and intraocular lenses with Google’s innovative 'smart lens' technology and groundbreaking speed in research, we aim to unlock a new frontier to jointly address the unmet medical needs of millions of eye care patients around the world.”
CRN reaches membership milestone — more than 100 voting members
WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Tuesday announced that its voting membership passed the century milestone mark with 101 companies, a new record for CRN. In addition, the number of associate — and international — members also is growing at a steady pace, bringing CRN’s total membership close to 150 member companies, the largest number of members in the association’s 41-year history.
“Since the association’s start, CRN has been dedicated to addressing the industry’s biggest challenges and helping foster responsible, sustainable growth for the industry,” said CRN president and CEO Steve Mister. “Our members recognize that investment in CRN is an investment for the industry’s future. Fortunately, we are attracting serious companies that recognize even though our dues may be higher than other associations in the industry, they are comparable to, or lower than, the top dog associations in the food, OTC and pharmaceutical industries. It’s a case of you get what you pay for, and our members recognize we’re playing in the majors now.”
With concerns that CRN might have lost some potential members for whom the dues structure didn’t make sense, the association revised — and in some cases, lowered — its dues structure last July, and is now consistently seeing the benefits of that decision. CRN’s Carl Hyland, director of membership development, said, “The new dues structure has helped CRN experience this growth spurt, and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, especially from those companies who had previously indicated interest, but shied away because of the cost. By adding new dues categories within voting membership, we’ve been able to rebalance the dues structure, address concerns about affordability, and attract a broader spectrum of companies. It’s a big tent over at CRN, and we’re excited to be representing so many new and vibrant companies, along with our long-term members.”
At the same time, CRN has stepped up its representation of the dietary supplement and functional foods industry, the association noted. “New voluntary guidelines and calls for greater enforcement of existing regulations allow CRN members to distinguish themselves from competitors and to network with like-minded firms, while new research initiatives and a robust presence on Capitol Hill provide members with unique insights and opportunities to impact the future of the industry,” Mister said.
Compliant Pharmacy Alliance Cooperative names successor to retiring CEO
STOUGHTON, Wis. — Compliant Pharmacy Alliance Cooperative on Tuesday announced that H. Edward Heckman, CEO, is slated to retire from the company this fall and to be succeeded by COO Jay Blackburn.
The purchasing cooperative said late Monday that plans call for Heckman to retire on Oct. 1, with the 42-year-old Blackburn taking the CEO reins on that date.
Heckman is the creator and has been with CPA for more than 20 years, serving in the organization’s top leadership position during all those years.
“Now that we have completed our transition preparation plans, I am announcing my plans to retire,” Heckman stated. “With our strong position in the growth areas of the community pharmacy industry, I believe CPA is exceptionally well-positioned for continued success and that the company’s future has never been brighter. With Jay’s leadership, I am confident that CPA and all our members will take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.”
“On a personal note,” Heckman said. “I am 64 years old and have been at the helm for 20 years. There are many things I’d like to do with my wife, my family, my grandchildren, my friends and other interests I would like to pursue while I am still in good health, and I look forward to getting started on that chapter of my life.”
Blackburn, currently COO, is responsible for all CPA day-to-day operations. Before being promoted to COO in September 2010, he was VP operations. During the last 7 years with CPA, Blackburn has seen CPA grow from 352 to 1,081 members.
“Jay’s experience and skills make him eminently qualified to be the next CEO of Compliant Pharmacy Alliance,” Heckman said. “The company has great momentum, a seasoned and proven management team, and a superb member-focused, profit-driven culture. I have no doubts that Jay will continue to grow our business and provide even greater benefits to CPA members.”
CPA chairman John Groesbeck applauded Heckman’s achievements in his years of service at the company and noted that he has set it on a course for continued success.“Ed has done a superb job during his 20 years as the CEO of CPA,” Groesbeck said. “Most notably he has developed a very talented and results-oriented management team. The board of directors has every confidence that under the leadership of Jay Blackburn, CPA will continue to deliver the outstanding performance that Compliant Pharmacy Alliance members have come to expect.”
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