ATLANTA—The annual SECO meeting opened in Atlanta on Wednesday and Alcon was among the companies organizing both in-person and virtual meetings with ECPs and industry professionals. Rick Weisbarth, OD, Alcon’s vice president of professional affairs, U.S. Vision Care, noted that the 2020 SECO meeting likely was the last “live” industry meeting that many people attended before the COVID-19 pandemic brought in-person events to a halt. Alcon also used the occasion to preview new products in its pipeline that are either launching now or are coming over the course of the next 12 months.

They include the Total 30 monthly replacement contact lens (which employs the Dailies Total 1 technology) and the Systane iLux2 treatment device with near-infrared camera to show patients the benefits of meibomian gland treatment for dry eye.

“Little did we know what was about to ensue, literally within the next week,” Weisbarth said at a breakfast briefing for media (who mostly attended virtually). “During that challenging time, we certainly have continued to identify areas where eyecare practitioners needed the full power of the Alcon organization to support their practices as well as their patients.” For this reason, among others, Alcon chose for this year’s SECO meeting the theme, “Innovating Brilliantly.”

“Everyone knows that the past year has been very challenging for the industry as well as the optometric profession,” he added.

Alcon's Rick Weisbarth, OD, (r) talks with race car driver Jimmie Johnson at the Alcon breakfast session Wednesday morning
at the SECO conference.

Weisbarth said Alcon believes that even during the pandemic the company managed to “stay ahead of the curve” while working to develop innovative new products. He noted that Alcon has successfully launched over 40 products across its vision care and surgical franchises in both the U.S. and global markets since 2018. “And we’re not done yet,” he said. “We have a lot more to show … and certainly we will continue to innovate brilliantly and we’re excited to take on this challenge.”

Sean Clark, vice president and general manager, U.S. Vision Care, noted that Alcon recently launched the Precision 1 lens for astigmatism, which, he said, has had “very good initial uptake.” Precision1 for astigmatism is the only SiHy toric from Alcon. It meets a significant need in the vision care market—as a stable and comfortable lens—and provides these features “at a mainstream price,” Clark said.

He also highlighted the U.S. launch this week of Systane Hydration Multi-Dose Preservative-Free (MDPF) Lubricant Eye Drops, which is a more convenient offering for patients than has existed previously. With its proprietary HydroBoost Technology, the new preservative-free eye drop provides extra moisture for patients with sensitive dry eyes, according to Alcon.

Systane Hydration MDPF joins the fast-growing preservative-free segment of artificial tears, which represents over 40 percent of the global market. Systane is the leading artificial tear brand globally, however, it had not been available in a convenient, multi-dose preservative-free formulation until now.

Perhaps most significantly, though, is a new Alcon multi-use contact lens planned to debut in 2022.

Andy Pawson, president and general manager of Alcon Global Vision Care, said the new lens’ planned launch in 2022 will be the company’s second of three planned innovation platforms for contact lenses (with Precision 1 being the first innovation platform). It will be a reusable or multi-use lens.

“Why reusable?” Pawson asked. “Actually, globally, two-third of contacts lens wearers in the world today are in the reusable segment, and it accounts for about 45 percent of the category value. And there hasn’t been a great deal of innovation in this space for over 10 years, and 70 percent of reusable wearers stay loyal to reusable lenses. It’s an extremely important segment in the contact lens category, so we’re going to focus on the reusable segment from an innovation standpoint.”

The debut product in this Alcon initiative will be Total 30 lenses, a “unique and novel lens that will bring innovation to the reusable segment and enable us to premium-ize the segment,” Pawson said. The new will be based on the water-gradient technology of Dailies Total 1, which will be applied to a monthly modality. It also has a unique surface chemistry that makes the lens extremely robust and it also is able to remain free of bacteria and deposits over a significant length of time, Pawson added.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to bring innovation to this segment,” he added. The new lens will be launched under the “Total” brand name, which allows for marketing synergy. “Watch out for more news from Alcon on Total 30 in the fourth quarter. We’re looking to launch this lens during 2022,” he said.

Also appearing virtually at the meeting with the media was racecar driver Jimmie Johnson, who is the brand ambassador for Alcon’s Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength eye allergy itch relief drops.