Swiss drug maker Novartis Group said July 15 that its eye care unit, Fort Worth-based Alcon, will join with a division of Google Inc. to develop and market a smart contact lens for all ocular medical uses. The smart lens technology involves non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics that are embedded within contact lenses. Google’s new smart lens technology has the potential to help diabetic patients manage their body’s glucose and help people with presbyopia to restore their eyes’ natural autofocus on near objects.
“We are looking forward to working with Google to bring together their advanced technology and our extensive knowledge of biology to meet unmet medical needs,” said Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez. “This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye.” Under the new agreement, Google[x], a team within Google, will bring its expertise in miniaturized electronics, microfabrication and low power chips, while Alcon will provide the medical know-how in physiology and visual performance of the eye as well as commercialization of contact and intraocular lenses. The transaction remains subject to anti-trust approvals. The three Alcon businesses – surgical, pharmaceutical and vision care – generated net sales of $10.5 billion in 2013. Alcon has more than 25,000 employees worldwide, with operations in 75 countries and products available in 180 markets.
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