Alcon’s next chapter
Sergio Duplan, region president, North America, discusses the recent spinoff from Novartis.
By OM staff
On April 9, Alcon completed its planned spinoff from Novartis, becoming “the largest independent eye-care company,” according to Sergio Duplan, region president, North America, since 2015. A few weeks later, Ophthalmology Management sat down with Mr. Duplan at the ASCRS meeting in San Diego to discuss his optimism regarding this period of transition, the state of Alcon and some of its recent innovations.
Ophthalmology Management: Alcon recently completed its spinoff from Novartis. Tell us how the transition has gone thus far.
Sergio Duplan: This is very exciting for Alcon. It’s a new chapter in our history, but, even more importantly, it should be very exciting for our customers. Being independent is going to allow us to be much more focused purely on eye care and operate as a medical device company. This is going to allow us to be faster, nimbler and make decisions quicker because we don’t have to be competing with big pharma thinking, which is a slower process with longer innovation timelines. In medical devices, you need to innovate very quickly.
The other difference is that in medical device, you need to be out with your customers, innovating in the OR. You really need to understand the needs of the surgeons to develop technologies that will help them and their patients. That doesn’t happen in pharma. Now we are going to be able to focus on being much faster and really better serve our customers.
OM: Where are you in terms of the spinoff? Is there a time frame for this transition?
SD: It’s definitely going to be an ongoing process. The good thing is we were already gearing for a spinoff, so I would say we’ve been preparing for this for two years. I think our customers have noticed a new Alcon already even before the spinoff, but we are now able to move even faster.
For example, look at external technologies that are being developed outside of Alcon. For us to acquire some of these very exciting technologies, we had to compete for resources against Novartis’ big pharma projects, which was always very difficult. Now we can make the call right away.
But it’s going to be a continuous process. We are not there yet by any means.
OM: Fill us in on some of Alcon’s recent innovations.
SD: One innovation is our NGENUITY 3D Visualization System. First of all, it’s an amazing visualization experience. Doing surgery in 3D has an excitement unto itself, but the more important thing is it gives surgeons great depth of focus to see the eye better. Also, the whole staff is watching what the surgeon is seeing, and that allows them to be much more efficient and to react to what the surgeon needs vs. when only the surgeon is looking through the microscope. And it’s great for teaching new surgeons. Another key aspect with NGENUITY is ergonomics. Surgeons who are using the NGENUITY say at the end of the day with the heads-up display, “I feel so much more relaxed. I don’t feel so tired.”
Also, we are launching our LuxOR Revalia Ophthalmic Microscope, which has personalized LED illumination technology. It allows great visualization through all the steps of the cataract surgery.
In addition, we are innovating around phacoemulsification. As you know, we have the Centurion phaco platform, a big breakthrough that we launched in 2014. It was really hard to say, “How are we going to improve on that?” We were able to do it by introducing the new ACTIVE SENTRY Handpiece. It is the first and only phaco handpiece with a built-in fluidics pressure sensor that detects pressure in real time and communicates with the CENTURION. This allows the machine to maintain that stability of the chamber in a much better way.
Also, recent data on our AcrySof IQ ReSTOR +2.5 Multifocal Toric IOL with ACTIVEFOCUS shows how you get uncompromising distance vision, which patients really need. At the same time, you get exceptional rotational stability, so wherever the surgeon places the lens, it stays. This lens has been accepted very nicely in the U.S.
OM: What message do you want to give physicians about the state of Alcon?
SD: I would say there’s no better time to be a customer of Alcon. We are in the next chapter of innovation, and our commitment to ophthalmology and to surgeons is going to be at an even higher level than before. OM
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