MARCH 12, 2009--Laser vision correction leader LCA-VisionInc. (NASDAQ: LCAV) says that, following a rigorous clinical comparison of excimer laser platform technologies, it has decided to trim the number of platforms at each of its LasikPlusvision centers from three to two. The company expects this will reduce annual operating expenses in excess of $3 million when the program is implemented fully no later than the end of the Q3 2009. New agreements with equipment manufacturers will also provide sufficient cash to allow LCA-Vision to retire $2.1 million of capital lease obligations immediately, and will fund additional cash to its balance sheet by the end of the third quarter. The company expects to begin implementing the program later this month and hopes this program will significantly reduce operating expenses and improve its already-strong balance sheet.
Under the plan, LCA-Vision will standardize excimer treatment platforms through five-year relationships with Abbott Medical Optics Inc., (AMO, formerly Advanced Medical Optics, Inc.) for the VISX Star S4 IR excimer laser and Alcon Laboratories, Inc. for the Allegretto Wave Eye-Q 400Hz excimer laser. LasikPlus vision centers will continue to offer the same broad spectrum of treatment options that includes standard treatment, a custom wavefront guided treatment and an optimized treatment, and the IntraLase femotsecond technology.
"We are capitalizing on an opportunity afforded by advancements in excimer laser platforms, which allow us to reduce the number of lasers per center and lower costs while ensuring our continued ability to achieve industry-leading clinical outcomes," said Steven C. Straus, LCA-Vision's CEO. "Importantly, we made this decision following a first-of-its-kind, rigorous contralateral prospective randomized study, comparable to an FDA clinical study. The study was performed in multiple LasikPlus vision centers by members of our Medical Advisory Board with the assistance of an outside research specialist. All excimer lasers tested in the study performed well, and our decision was influenced by the economics negotiated with individual manufacturers and savings associated with supporting fewer platforms. Although our LasikPlus vision centers will continue to offer multiple excimer laser platforms and the most sophisticated excimer and femtosecond technology available today--an important differentiation factor in our industry--the implementation of this plan will have a significant positive impact on our balance sheet and bottom line."
Speaking on behalf of the Medical Advisory Board, Lewis Groden, M.D., of Tampa, Fla., said, "We are confident that reducing the number of excimer lasers in each LasikPlus(R) vision center from three to two will have virtually no impact on the patient experience or clinical outcome. My surgeon colleagues and I looked carefully at various laser platforms and comparative data, and we are delighted that this program is being implemented companywide. It will continue the LasikPlus tradition of providing the finest patient care while maintaining a key LasikPlus competitive advantage by offering multi-laser options."
Straus added, "We are partnering with two premier ophthalmic companies committed to remaining at the forefront of the refractive industry with a commitment to the U.S. market. We believe these relationships further solidify LCA-Vision's position as a leader in refractive eye care in the U.S. In addition, as we expand our business model to include premium intraocular lenses and other vision-related services, we will continue to utilize resources at Bausch and Lomb, AMO and Alcon."
See LCA-Vision's website.