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AMO acquires OptiMedica


What the $400 million deal brings to the laser cataract surgery market

Abbott Park, IL-Abbott Medical Optics (AMO) will expand into the femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery market with the acquisition of Silicon Valley, CA-based OptiMedica Corp. and its Catalys Precision Laser System for up to $400 million.

The deal, announced July 15, allows AMO to jump into an emerging technology that already has won market clearance in 14 countries.

More than 60 units of the laser system, which received FDA approval in 2011, have been used to perform more than 25,000 laser procedures in practices around the world, said Mark J. Forchette, OptiMedica’s president and chief executive officer.

Although most cataract surgeries are performed manually, about 20% of high-volume cataract centers in the United States perform laser-assisted cataract surgery, said Murthy Simhambhatla, PhD, AMO president. The company expects that percentage to grow to 70% over the next few years.

“I have absolutely no doubt that this will evolve much like phacoemulsification has become a mainstay of cataract surgery, so it’s important to evolve it rapidly to meet customers’ needs,” Dr. Simhambhatla said.

The laser technology is hailed for its ability to produce uniform, noninvasive incisions to replace some of the most technically demanding and variable aspects of cataract surgery.

“It’s a great way for surgical centers to differentiate themselves and offer patients the latest and best technology,” he said. “There will be growth in this very attractive segment in the near term, then a second wave of growth as medium-volume centers and national health-care systems start to adopt this over time.”

While there are several femtosecond laser-assisted systems on the market, Dr. Simhambhatla said the Catalys offers two distinct advantages with its imaging component of the integrated three-dimensional, optical coherence tomography and the smooth, liquid interface with patients.

“We’re very excited about the interface that OptiMedica has developed,” he said.

 AMO will distribute the laser system through its global sales force, which will be able to offer customers a full portfolio of products for cataract surgery, he said. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Cataract-related sales account for about 60% of Abbott’s vision-care segment.

Acquisitions abound

The OptiMedica acquisition was one of two vision-care-related deals Abbott revealed July 15, including the acquisition of ophthalmic surgical distributor Vistatek (see “Abbott expands presence in vision-care market in Brazil”). The company also announced a $310 million deal to acquire IDEV Technologies, a Texas developer of medical devices for interventional radiologists, vascular surgeons, and cardiologists.

“While organic growth remains our top priority, these acquisitions bring Abbott leading technologies to capitalize on growth opportunities,” said Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive officer, to analysts in a second-quarter earnings conference call 2 days later. As the market shifts toward premium IOLs, more surgeons will choose to invest in a laser-assisted system for cataract surgery, he added.

Abbott shares rose by 22 cents the day after the announcements of its acquisitions to $35.70 per share.

Forchette and Dr. Simhambhatla said they expect to build on the laser system with related laser techniques.

“Every step of the way, we’ve seen great opportunities for products that leverage this technology,” Forchette said.

"As soon as we saw we could deliver a capsulotomy with precise size, shape, and position, and that we could consistently fragment and soften the nucleus, it drove us to think about just how far we can take this technology," he said. "It was very natural to think about how this technology interacts with the capsule, lens, and nuclear disassembly technologies-and it becomes a tremendous platform for thought and further innovation."

Integration details-including how many of the OptiMedica staff members are retained by AMO-have yet to be decided, they said.

“We’re very excited about the quality of the talent at OptiMedica,” Dr. Simhambhatla said. “They have a proven track record of bringing things to market.”


Abbott expands presence in vision-care market in Brazil

Abbott Park, IL-Abbott announced July 15 it has acquired Brazilian surgical distributor Vistatek, expanding the company's vision-care business in Latin America.

“The acquisition of Vistatek allows Abbott to be closer to the patients we serve and to grow our customer base in the Brazilian market by providing a broad portfolio of vision-care treatment options,” said Murthy Simhambhatla, PhD, AMO president. “We welcome the additional knowledge and expertise of Vistatek, which also provides us the infrastructure and foundation to support continued growth in Latin America.”

Vistatek is headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil, and has served as a distributor of Abbott's cataract and laser vision correction technologies. Additionally, this transaction coincides with Abbott’s 75th anniversary of conducting business in Brazil.

Financial terms were not disclosed.


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