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Alcon officially acquires BELKIN Vision

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Just 2 months after initial reports of a purchase agreement, Alcon, Inc. has completed its acquisition of BELKIN Vision, an Israel-based glaucoma surgery company, along with its flagship product.

Let’s begin with BELKIN (no refresher needed on Alcon).

Based in Yavne, Israel, BELKIN was launched in 2013 as a medical device company dedicated to developing and marketing a first-line glaucoma laser treatment—now its flagship product.

Hold up. Doesn’t Alcon already have a major glaucoma device?

Indeed. The company acquired the Hydrus Microstent from Ivantis, Inc. back in 2022—solidifying its status as a top manufacturer of a widely-used minimally-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) device.

Gotcha. So explain this glaucoma laser device.

Its name: The Eagle.

What it is: A Q-switched, 532 nm-wavelength, frequency-doubled, neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser device designed to provide an automated and non-invasive solution for glaucoma surgery.

Why it’s unique: The device is the first—and currently only—direct selective-laser trabeculoplasty (DSLT) laser for glaucoma that delivers laser energy through a non-contact approach via the cornea.

Compared to standard SLT: Prior research has found DSLT to be a more rapid and simpler technique, as well as involves a proprietary eye-tracking technology to ensure accurate, automated treatment delivery.

So … how does it work?

The device directly (and without contact) delivers laser energy through the limbus to the trabecular meshwork—without the use of a gonioscopy lens.

Then: It automatically defines the target location and applies the laser treatment sequence; meanwhile, the eye tracker compensates for any eye movement.

What kind of clinical data is available on it?

Research published in 2023 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology reported promising data from the evaluator-masked and controlled GLAUrious study (NCT03750201).

  • The purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of DSLT (via The Eagle) vs standard SLT for reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) among open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and ocular hypertension (OHT) patients
    • The participants: 201 patients (aged 40+)
      • 84 randomized to receive DSLT
      • 77 randomized to receive SLT
    • The duration: 12 months

And the findings?

The DSLT procedure (ie: The Eagle) provided a mean reduction of unmedicated IOP at 6 months:

  • 5.46 ± 0.51 mmHg (95% Confidence interval [CI] -6.48 to -4.45)
    • To compare:  6.16 ± 0.53 mmHg (95% CI -7.21 to -5.11) for the SLT group

The difference between mean reduction in IOP between the two groups (SLT-DSLT):

  • -0.70 mmHg (95% CI -2.15 to 0.76; p=0.091)

See here for more findings.

What’s significant about that data?

One major reason: It supported the FDA 510(k) clearance of The Eagle, which was granted in December 2023.

  • Note: The device is not yet commercially available within the U.S.

Alrighty, now on to this deal. Remind me: How much is it worth?

Alcon confirmed that the total upfront consideration is $81 million, including a cash payment of an estimated $65 million.

Plus: The deal also involves the potential for up to $385 million in payments, which are contingent on any sales-based milestones, according to the company.

And Alcon’s plans for The Eagle outside the US?

As this DSLT technology is already commercially available in the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) markets, Alcon intends to continue that supply.

What about plans for its US launch?

The company reported a targeted commercial launch by the end of 2024.

Also: Alcon is planning to integrate DSLT into its already-established Alcon Vision Suite ecosystem which includes the Hydrus Microstent, intraocular lenses (IOLs), procedural eye drops, and surgical equipment, to name a few.

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