Alcon buys Israeli glaucoma treatment co Optonol

The deal with the US eye care company could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Israeli glaucoma treatment company Optonol Ltd. has been acquired by US eye care company Alcon (NYSE: ACL) in a deal potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Optonol will receive an initial cash payment of $150 million for its Ex-Press mini-glaucoma shunt family of products for glaucoma filtering surgery. Milestone payments could earn the company, which is headquartered in Kansas City and has its development center in Neve Ilan near Jerusalem, hundreds of millions of dollars.

Optonol was founded in 1996 as a spin-off of Jerusalem-based stent developer Medinol Ltd. by CEO Yaron Ira and Benad Goldwasser. The two remain major shareholders in the company, which has raised $30 million, mainly from venture capital funds, over the years. The company's most recent round of fund raising was for over $20 million from Israel Healthcare Ventures, which owns 13% of the company, and Pitango, which owns 30%. Other well known shareholders in the company include former Likud MK Naomi Blumenthal, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (TASE:MZTF) CEO Eli Yones and IDB Holding Corp. (TASE:IDBH) co-CEO Avi Fischer.

Optonol's flagship Ex-Press product is a novel miniature surgical implant used to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with glaucoma. The company has annual revenue of several million dollars.

Alcon's VP pharmaceutical products said, "This transaction demonstrates Alcon's strong commitment to providing physicians with comprehensive treatment options for patients with glaucoma, the world's second leading cause of blindness. This surgical procedure provides incremental surgeon and patient benefits over traeculectomy, which is currently considered the standard of care in glaucoma surgical therapy."

The closing of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and the receipt of required regulatory approvals and is expected to occur by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on December 14, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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