DES PLAINES, ILL.--Mar.
20, 2000--Wesley Jessen VisionCare, Inc. and Ocular Sciences, Inc. today
announced a definitive merger agreement, creating the world's second
largest soft contact lens producer. The Company will have the broadest
product range in the industry.
The merger, which will be effected in an all-stock combination valued
at approximately $900 million, combines Wesley Jessen's leading
position in specialty contact lenses with Ocular Sciences' growing
position in the clear disposable lens market. With combined 1999 sales
of just under $500 million, the new company will rank second in
worldwide soft lens revenue.
The company, to be known as Wesley Jessen VisionCare, will be
headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois. Leading the combined company
as President and CEO will be Kevin Ryan, who is the current Chairman,
President and CEO of Wesley Jessen. John Fruth, founder and Chairman
of Ocular Sciences will serve as non-executive Chairman of the new
"The merger of Wesley Jessen and Ocular Sciences combines the
unique and complementary strengths of each organization, enabling the
value of each company's assets to be fully realized," said Kevin
Ocular Sciences brings a consumer preferred disposable lens design, an
efficient manufacturing capability, and a unique channel branding
strategy that has enabled the company to capture the second largest
share of the U.S. disposable lens market.
"This is a combination designed to achieve both business growth
and enhanced shareholder value over the near and long term. As smaller
players, without the full resources of the multi-national health care
giants that have dominated our industry, the two companies were less
able to shape events. Now the combined company will have the resources
to accelerate new product and international business development and
challenge the majors," said Ryan.
Ryan continued, "Common to both companies' strategies has been
the emphasis on helping eye care professionals make contact lens
fitting more profitable. But, up to now, Wesley Jessen has not
competed for the 70% of patients who wear clear lenses. Now we will be
able to leverage the relationships built by our direct sales force and
compete for 100% of the potential market, not just the 30% wearing
specialty lenses. Similarly, Ocular Sciences has not been able to
access the high growth specialty and color lens market in a
significant way prior to this combination."
The Company expects to achieve annual synergies of at least $20
million in pre-tax income once fully integrated. One significant
synergy expected to be produced by the merger is increased coverage of
Ocular Sciences' lenses by U.S. eye care practitioners through Wesley
Jessen's large direct sales force. Currently Wesley Jessen's U.S.
customer base is 50% greater than Ocular Sciences, which has relied
primarily on telemarketing to sell its lenses. Wesley Jessen expects
to significantly expand penetration of OSI's new Hydrogenics 60
disposable lens among private practitioners -- a product that has been
well received during its launch phase.
"Both Wesley Jessen and Ocular
Sciences have large wearer bases. By cross-selling cosmetic and clear
lenses, we will hope to expand the wearer base of each product
line," said Ryan. By combining
technical and operational resources, the merged company expects to
improve its capability to add new production lines and scale-up new
- All contact lens wearers might suffer
from corneal damage
- NEW YORK, N.Y.--Mar. 12,1998--All contact-lens wearers eventually might suffer from corneal damage,
reports a new study that adds weight to the inherent risk borne by all eyecare consumers.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Bern in Switzerland, builds upon
previous research that has suggested people who wear contacts run a higher risk of having
corneal ulcers and other problems.
The new study separated 55 people into three groups: 29 who had never used contact lenses;
13 who had worn soft lenses for an average of 14 years; and 11who had used gas-permeable
lenses for on average of 15 years.
According to the study, all patients who had worn contact lenses in the past had deposits
in their corneas. None of the 29 nonusers had deposits.
Soft-lens users had more severe deposits than did those subjects who used gas-permeable
lenses. Soft lenses do not allow as much oxygen to pass through them as do gas-permeable
lenses. The lack of oxygen, says the study, might be one of the causes of the deposits.
"Because the number of patients having worn contact lenses for more than two decades
will increase significantly in the near future, irreversible corneal changes may be
generated in a large number of patients and require treatment," the researchers wrote
in the November issue of ophthalmology.
But one American contact lens expert says that wearers are not exclusively disposed to
these deposits, and that non-users are not necessarily indisposed.
DES PLAINES, Ill.--Jan. 22, 2000--Wesley Jessen's less frequently ordered powers of
its clear spheres, clear torics, and colored spheres will be
made-to-order products, rather than inventoried according to a
conversion plan the company has announced.
Jessen to Convert Certain Lenses to Made-to-Order
"We anticipate continuing declines in conventional lens volume as
the market continues to evolve to frequent replacement," said Kevin
J. Ryan, Wesley Jessen chairman, president and CEO. "However, for
millions of patients, conventional lenses continue to provide
cost-effective, reliable vision correction."
The company said its long-term plan is to continue to offer its broad
array of conventional lenses, but will gradually convert them from
in-stock lenses to made-to-order products. "Ultimately we may
convert our entire line of conventional lenses to made-to-order
status," added Ryan.
- Opticianry A.S. Degree Programs Move Forward
NEW YORK, N.Y.--Feb. 02,2000--The National Academy of Opticianry (NAO), National Federation
of Opticianry Schools (NFOS), and Opticians Association of America (OAA)
are now offering associate degree programs for work place opticians. The
NAO program, in conjunction with the California College for Health
Sciences and the Contact Lens Society of America, is based completely on
distance learning via Internet- or print-based study. Upon successful
completion, graduates receive an Associate of Science degree in Allied
Health with a concentration in Opticianry. The NFOS program combines
Internet- or print-based delivery with college-instructed clinical
courses in an ophthalmic office; students can enroll at participating
colleges around the country for the Fall 2000 semester. The OAA,
partnering with The Learning Curve and Charter Oak State College, has
developed a program where students can choose self-paced options for
earning credit: traditional, university correspondence, independent
guided study, testing, portfolio review, and credit for professional
certifications and licenses. "In today's job market, there is a
large demand for people with college degrees and technical skills,"
says Jim Iciek, NAO executive director. "Proven distance learning
educational programs are the most effective alternative to a traditional
ROCHESTER, N.Y. --Feb. 02,2000--Bausch
& Lomb and Alcon Laboratories, Inc. settled a six-year-old lawsuit
involving a Bausch & Lomb patent that related to the enzymatic cleaning of
contact lenses. The settlement resolves the patent infringement case filed
By B&L against Alcon in October 1994, in the U.S. District Court for the
Western District of New York, concerning B&L's Patent No. 5,096,607. Under
the terms of the settlement agreement, Alcon will pay an upfront payment
to B&L of $25 million, or approximately $0.27 per share, which will be
recorded as income in the first quarter of this year, B&L said.
Additionally, Alcon will pay B&L a stream of royalties over the next eight
years for a worldwide license under
B&L's patent for the simultaneous
use of a chemical disinfecting solution
with an enzyme cleaning product for contact lens care. As part
of the settlement, both parties have agreed that no additional details will be provided,
and Alcon Reach Settlement