Bausch & Lomb acquires eyeonics, names new chairman

Bausch & Lomb. acquired IOL manufacturer eyeonics, announced a new research deal, and gained a new chairman and chief executive officer.

Key Points

Three months after private equity firm Warburg Pincus completed its acquisition of Bausch & Lomb, the 155-year-old eye-care company has acquired IOL manufacturer eyeonics, announced a new research deal, and gained a new chairman and chief executive officer (CEO).

The three announcements, made in 8 days in January, signal a new era for the now privately owned Bausch & Lomb, made possible with the influx of cash from Warburg Pincus, according to industry analysts.

"The acquisition Warburg Pincus made in privatizing Bausch & Lomb is setting the stage for further technology investments," said analyst and private consultant Ken Taylor, OD, of Marblehead, MA. "There was a tremendous amount of 'buzz' during the [recent ophthalmic meeting in Hawaii]," which began the day the announcement was made.

Bausch & Lomb announced its intention to acquire the Aliso Viejo, CA-based private ophthalmic device manufacturer, and the deal closed within 12 days. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"It signals we're in a period of growth," said Michael L. McDougall, director of corporate communications, Bausch & Lomb. "What you're seeing from the Warburg Pincus acquisition is now we have a financial partner and strategic adviser who's certainly focused on growing the company and creating value over the long term."

Under terms of the deal, eyeonics will become part of the company's surgical division but will operate as the company's only wholly owned subsidiary, McDougall said. J. Andy Corley, eyeonics' co-founder, chairman, and CEO, will lead Bausch & Lomb's U.S. surgical business, which includes a complete line of standard IOLs, phacoemulsification equipment, and vitreoretinal and refractive products. The eyeonics business will continue to be based in southern California, McDougall said.

"Everyone's excited for eyeonics, knowing the staff has put in 8 to 10 years bringing this technology to market, and they've been gaining positive results clinically," Dr. Taylor said. "With the Bausch & Lomb acquisition, this now provides more investment for eyeonics to bring some of [its] other products to the market."

Founded in 1998, eyeonics developed and markets the first and only FDA-approved accommodating IOL (crystalens). The lens has been implanted in more than 95,000 eyes worldwide.

The deal gives eyeonics access to Bausch & Lomb's worldwide sales force, which would "cross-sell" products from both companies, McDougall said.

Taylor said two other companies have accommodating IOLs in late-stage U.S. clinical trials with generally positive results (Tetraflex, Lenstec Inc.; Synchrony, Visiogen Inc.). He predicted that physicians will be more inclined to choose eyeonics' lens now that it is backed by a larger company such as Bausch & Lomb, but many are "sitting back to see what other technologies are coming down the pipeline."