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Novartis's Alcon Business Buys Glaucoma Treatment Device Company

Article-Novartis's Alcon Business Buys Glaucoma Treatment Device Company

Novartis's Alcon unit bought a company developing a minimally-invasive glaucoma surgical product that can be implanted during cataract surgery.

Novartis's Alcon unit bought a company developing a minimally-invasive glaucoma surgical product that can be implanted during cataract surgery.

Arundhati Parmar

Novartis announced Thursday that is is buying Transcend Medical, which has developed a small implant to treat glaucoma, for an undisclosed sum.

In October, Transcend, the Menlo Park, California company completed its submission to the FDA for a premarket approval of its CyPass Micro-Stent device. It is aimed at patients who have mild-to-moderate glaucoma and are undergoing cataract surgery. The device is implanted just below the surface of the eye and is designed to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma.

For patients with such a condition, fluid fails to drain from the eye thus building up pressure inside it. Implanting a micro-stent helps to improve the natural drainage pathway of the eye, allowing the excess fluid to leave the eye and thereby reduce pressure. The hope is that this minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) product can reduce or even eliminate the need for patients to be on glaucoma drugs.

"We expect the MIGS technology to be a great addition to our device pipeline and to establish Alcon's presence in this new surgical category to treat glaucoma," said Mike Ball, CEO of Alcon, in a news release. "If approved, it will provide a less invasive means of lowering IOP than traditional invasive glaucoma surgery, with the goal of lowering the dependency of topical ocular medication."

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A study involving more than 500 patients with mild-to-moderate glaucoma undergoing cataract surgery randomized to either receive the MIGS Micro-Stent after cataract surgery or undergo no further intervention met its primary and secondary endpoints in 2015 resulting in a 20% or greater reduction in IOP, according to Transcend Medical.

While CyPass is awaiting FDA approval in the U.S., it has CE Mark.

"We hope that the CyPass device will offer the U.S. ophthalmologist a promising option to lower intraocular pressure in patients undergoing cataract surgery," said Wende Hutton, general partner with Canaan Partners, a venture capital firm that invested in Transcend, via email.   "CyPass has the potential to provide meaningful 2-year IOP lowering therapy, as demonstrated in its pivotal trial, and to help address the compliance issues associated with daily glaucoma drops."  

Another company that has a similar approach in treating glaucoma is Laguna Hills, California-based Glaukos, which went public in June. In January, the company announced that a new international clinical study, published in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, showed that use of its iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent in conjunction with cataract surgery led to a "36% reduction in mean intraocular pressure (IOP) and an 86% reduction in the mean number of glaucoma medications three years following surgery."

Transcend Medical and Glaukos were locked in a legal dispute involving patents until recently. In November, the two companies settled by which Glaukos agreed not to sue Transcend. Meanwhile, Transcend agreed to pay Glaukos 1% of future net sales of its CyPass product quarterly up to 2022, but not exceeding $6 million. 

Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @aparmarbb 

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