Visiogen joins Abbott portfolio

October 1, 2009

Abbott expands its vision-care portfolio with the announcement of a definitive agreement to acquire Visiogen Inc., maker of a dual-optic accommodating lens (Synchrony).

Key Points

Abbott's acquisition of Visiogen Inc. not only provides Abbott Medical Optics (AMO) with next-generation technology in the accommodative IOL arena, it also demonstrates Abbott's commitment to the ophthalmic community, according to James V. Mazzo, president of AMO and senior vice president of Abbott.

Abbott announced Sept. 2 that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Visiogen for $400 million in cash. Visiogen, a privately held company based in Irvine, CA, with European operations in Karlsruhe, Germany, filed Aug. 7 for FDA approval of its dual-optic accommodating lens (Synchrony).

The market for presbyopia-correcting IOLs is poised for strong growth, according to Mazzo.

"There's a great demographic for this patient, [the market] is built on technology, and it has a universal appeal," he said.

"We didn't buy Visiogen just for the technology. We also bought it for the people," he said. "Visiogen has [a] very good product and good ideas beyond the one that's commercially available today in Europe and will be available next year in the United States. The combination of being able to get into this space immediately and get some quality people as well is a nice blend for us."

Accommodative pipeline

AMO has an accommodative project in its pipeline, according to Mazzo, but commercialization of a product is still several years away. Work will continue on that product.

"This is a category where you clearly can see that, as I like to say, one pair of shoes will not fit every patient's needs. You're going to need to have multiple platforms," he said.

Reza Zadno, PhD, founder, chief executive officer, and president of Visiogen, said he is looking forward to working with AMO and to bringing the lens to market much faster.

"This dual-optic accommodating IOL, after approval, will reach the market quickly and effectively by working with the Abbott commercialization organization," he said.

"Visiogen has a limited sales and marketing organization," Dr. Zadno said. "We launched the product in Europe, but we don't have a sales force in the United States. [AMO] already has a strong sales and marketing organization in place, and the lens will get to U.S. ophthalmologists and their patients much faster using AMO's sales and marketing power."

A smooth integration of Visiogen into AMO is anticipated, according to Mazzo.

"It's a start-up company, so there's not a lot of infrastructure there, and it wasn't a publicly traded company so there isn't a lot of overhead," he said. "In comparison to the complexity of some of the other acquisitions we've done [as Advanced Medical Optics], this should be a fairly straightforward integration."

Mazzo added, however, that he takes every integration seriously.

"When an acquisition falters, it's usually not because of the product. The failing is the inability to integrate the people," he said. "But we've done so many acquisitions that we're getting pretty good at it. As we were just acquired ourselves, we have a familiarity of what it's like to be on the other side."

According to Mazzo, the acquisition of Visiogen will help alleviate concerns anyone might have had as to how Abbott would handle AMO following its acquisition of the Santa Ana, CA-based company in February.

"Abbott has allowed us to stay independent. They've continued to infuse money into us in order to enable us to move forward aggressively," Mazzo said. "AMO is large and growing. We're going to continue growing between our organic research and development [R&D] pipeline as well as acquisitions.

"We invest about six-and-one-half percent of all of our revenues to R&D. That's a very big commitment," he added. "We know we're only as good as what we can continue to present to this great audience that we have."

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. It is expected to close in the fourth quarter.