Ignacio Castañón
General Manager
Alcon México
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View from the Top

Education Needed to Dispell Myths About Vision

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 12:17

Q: What actions is Alcon taking to strengthen its presence in the surgical and contact lenses markets?
A: The market has enjoyed double-digit growth since 2017, mainly thanks to a greater understanding of cataracts and how they can be treated. Also, we are collaborating with the leading ophthalmic institutions to drive awareness on this problem. For instance, the Association to Prevent Blindness in Mexico (APEC) created a successful campaign called Adiós Catarata that we have supported. We held our own awareness initiatives working together with hospitals, universities, schools and NGOs. The topic has seen more press and other media coverage, as well. As a result, more people have sought medical attention. While this has created a window of opportunity for our business, the most significant benefit has been for people who undergo surgery and enjoy a substantial improvement in their quality of life.
We have had significant success in the contact lenses market, too. One of our strategies to reach new customers and create awareness was to set up stands at big events where people could be checked and receive a diagnosis from an optometrist.
Q: How does Alcon differentiate from other companies offering similar products?
A: After our spin-off, we became the only company worldwide that is 100 percent dedicated to vision and eye care. We are market leaders in all countries where we are present. Innovation is our core driver, which is also one of the main reasons why we separated from Novartis. The type of research our products require is different, and being independent allows us to respond faster to our client’s needs.
Our innovation strategy is both organic and inorganic through the acquisition of other companies with promising technology. One example of a product developed internally is our preloaded intraocular lens named Acrysof. This system allows the doctor to insert a lens directly from a packaged container. Because there is no need to submerge the lens in liquid first and then inject it, less handling is needed and the doctor has to do a smaller insertion cut.
The result is a safer and faster procedure. An example of technology we acquired externally is a 3D camera that can be attached to the doctor’s microscope to project an image on a screen. We acquired this technology two years ago and recently launched it.
Q: Do you train doctors and other health professionals to use these technologies?
A: Yes, we are always working on training doctors and optometrists. When we move to our new headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, we will have a special center for training these health professionals. We will teach optometrists everything about contact lenses: how they are applied and the different types for different conditions. We will also train doctors to use our new technologies. We offer the same level of technology as in the US and Germany, which presents great opportunities for ophthalmologists in this country.
Q: How will demographic shifts and conditions like obesity and diabetes impact Mexicans’ visual health?
A: Diabetes has a direct impact on vision. As the incidence of diabetes rises, we will see more retinal diseases. I am not sure if we will need new forms of treatments to deal with these emerging diseases.
Q: How would Alcon like to close 2019?
A: Our main mission for 2019 is to grow in the market. We will be launching more products in Mexico in the short term. One is for dry eye, a condition that affects over 350 million people worldwide. In terms of competition, we are not over-preoccupied; being the biggest company has certain advantages. We will reach more patients, be able to provide more attention to medical professionals and generally see more commercial success.