A Medical Device Daily

Alcon (Fort Worth, Texas) yesterday said that it intends to acquire WaveLight AG (Erlangen, Germany) through a friendly takeover and that the parties have entered into a combination agreement.

WaveLight manufactures refractive laser and diagnostic systems, including the Allegretto laser system for refractive eye surgery.

Alcon will offer 110 a share in cash for all issued WaveLight shares, representing a 34% premium on the one-month (17.49) and 45% premium on the three-month (16.88), volume weighted average stock exchange price of WaveLight shares during the respective months prior to the announcement of the offer.

The offer will be contingent upon the fulfillment of certain customary terms and conditions, including a minimum acceptance threshold of 75% of WaveLight's issued shares and approval by relevant merger control authorities.

WaveLight's executive sommittee said it "fully supports" the deal and recommends its acceptance to its shareholders, subject to review of the published tender offer document.

The companies said the Allegretto laser has a global installed base of more than 800 units and offers the fastest ablation speed on the market today.

Alcon said the addition of that technology and the combination of the two companies' capabilities "will further reinforce Alcon's leadership in the important surgical channel represented by surgeons who perform both intraocular lens implantation and laser refractive surgery."

Cary Rayment, president/CEO and chairman of Alcon, said, "This acquisition will provide additional clinical solutions and laser technology to better support our cataract and refractive customers. We believe the combination of the Allegretto laser with our premium lenses, the AcrySof ReStor and AcrySof Toric intraocular lenses, and our future launch of the AcrySof phakic lens in Europe, enhances Alcon's product portfolio in the cataract/refractive surgeon channel."

WaveLight CEO Max Reindl said, "The combination of Alcon's global commercial infrastructure with WaveLight's technological capabilities will create the foundation for continued growth within the refractive surgery channel. Therefore, the executive committee believes that this offer and the proposed offer price are in the best interest of the WaveLight shareholders."

The parties intend for Reindl to continue as chairman of the WaveLight executive committee and also be a member of an operating committee with Alcon management in the development of the integration plans, thus capitalizing on the capabilities of both companies.

Alcon is a global leader in eye care, with 2006 sales of about $4.9 billion, including pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contact lens care solutions and other vision care products that treat diseases and other conditions of the eye.

WaveLight, with a U.S. subsidiary in Sterling, Virginia, manufactures a portfolio of ophthalmology products.

New histology kit launched by mtm

mtm laboratories (Heidedlberg, Germany), a cancer diagnostics company, has launched its CE-labeled CINtec Histology kit with extended claims in Europe. The company said the added clinical claims resulted from a recent pan-European pivotal study involving 15 pathologists from France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

The multi-center trial was conducted to determine the diagnostic accuracy of pathologists in reading H&E-stained cervical biopsies together with CINtec Histology-stained slides, compared to reading H&E slides alone. It involved some 500 retrospectively collected cervical tissue specimens.

Ruediger Ridder, mtm's chief scientific officer, said overall sensitivity for the detection of CIN2 and higher-grade disease was improved by 13%, with a 95% sensitivity for detection of high-grade CIN3 disease, while the number or false negative results dropped by 45%. "In addition," he said, "the inter-observer agreement, which is higher by 30%, improves the certainty that the result is consistent among different reviewers."

New powers to tackle health fraud in UK

The UK Department of Health has launched a consultation to help determine how new powers to tackle fraud will be used. A new code of practice is being determined to set out how National Health Service (NHS) counter-fraud and security specialists should obtain documents from individuals and contractors.

The powers, granted under the Health Act 2006, set out how NHS fraud or security investigations can be boosted by asking individuals or contractors to provide documents that could contain evidence. Failing to provide documents as requested, or giving misleading information could result in up to a two-year prison sentence or a fine.

The Department of Health said the powers will help combat financial losses to fraud in the NHS, adding that it is necessary to ensure that the powers be used in a way that does not disrupt patient care.

Of particular importance, according to the announcement of the consultation, is the need to protect patient confidentiality and ensure that any information obtained is used only for progressing investigations into fraud and security breaches.

Heartbeat expands European presence

Heartbeat Software (New York), a provider of KOL management solutions for the life sciences industry, said it has further expanded its European presence by consolidating operations at its European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, with regional offices in London and Paris.

"The most effective way to support and grow our client base is with local teams of account managers, technical support specialists and project leaders," said Larry Cohen, executive VP and GM, Europe. "Our headquarters in Brussels is the center of our operations in Europe and our additional offices in London and Paris will be instrumental in providing our clients with support."

"To serve our clients properly, we must be close to them, in the countries that they do business and able to meet the turnaround times they demand," said Jonah Meyers, president of Heartbeat. "By deepening our presence in Europe, we are doing just that."