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Optometry College Inaugurates President

He is the 13th person to serve in the role.

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New England College of Optometry has inaugurated Dr. Howard B. Purcell as its president.

Purcell is the 13th president in the college’s 125 year history, according to a press release from the institution. He is a graduate of the program, continuing the legacy of his father, Saul Purcell, who graduated in 1954.

New England College of Optometry inaugurated Dr. Howard B. Purcell as its 13th president. Source: New England College of Optometry

The ceremony took place at the Edward Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston in a recreation of the U.S. Senate chamber. It was attended by over 200 people, including the president’s family, friends and former and current colleagues, student leaders, industry leaders and community representatives. Distinguished delegates included representatives from four optometry schools – Dr. Kevin Alexander (Marshall B. Ketchum University), Dr. Morris Berman (MCPHS), Dr. Mark Colip (Illinois College of Optometry) and Dr. David Heath (State University of New York College of Optometry).

Pano Yeracaris, MD, chairman of the board, said Purcell’s “enthusiasm, energy and commitment is matched by his vision and effectiveness as a leader.”

Cynthia P. Macdonald, great granddaughter of NECO founder August Klein, noted all the hats that Purcell must now wear.

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“I know that each one of those hats will be woven from threads of knowledge and competence, care and compassion, diversity and inclusivity, respect and integrity,” Macdonald said. “These are the shining threads that together create the tapestry of the many generations of NECO family. The Klein Family Legacy is now entrusted to your care, Dr. Purcell, and I have no doubt it will be well tended.”

Purcell stepped into the role on July 1, 2018. Over the past nine months, he “has become indelibly connected to the NECO community,” according to the release.

Student Council President Monica Luo, class of 2020, described his immediate immersion into NECO.

“For an institution that feels so strongly about the creation and nurturing of meaningful bonds and relationships, President Purcell is the perfect fit,” Luo said. “In just his first few months, he made every effort to be present everywhere and to speak to everyone. … For every individual, he is open to listening and providing support. He is always present and always receptive.”

Purcell outlined his strategic priorities for the college to help “prepare today’s optometrists for tomorrow’s optometry.” His vision includes diversifying revenue; nurturing diversity, equity and inclusion; expanding continuing education and specialized degree programs; collaborating with industry; and finding ways to “best support and prepare our students for whatever changes may arise,” according to the release.

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Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 21 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Pharma Company with Eyecare Focus Names CEO

He previously served as interim chief.

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EMERYVILLE, CA — NovaBay Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focusing on commercializing Avenova for the domestic eye care market, announces the appointments of Justin Hall as president and CEO and Jason Raleigh as chief financial officer.

Hall has served as interim president and CEO, and Raleigh as interim CFO, since March 2019.

“Justin and Jason have proven their leadership abilities by successfully implementing the shift in our U.S. commercial strategy we announced in March and executing the recent launch of our U.S. direct-to-consumer sales of Avenova on Amazon.com,” said Paul E. Freiman, chairman of NovaBay.

“This is a very exciting time at NovaBay as we launch Avenova Direct, making our leading lid and lash spray directly accessible to consumers without a prescription and at affordable pricing,” Hall said. “My close working relationships with our Board, principal investors, and sales force are key to quickly adjusting our strategy to rapidly address opportunities in the marketplace. We are on the move and we have momentum.”

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Raleigh said: “I’m honored to be selected as CFO and appreciate the Board’s trust in my abilities. I look forward to continuing to work with Justin and the NovaBay team toward the continued successful commercialization of Avenova.”

Hall has served with NovaBay for six years in a variety of roles, including as corporate counsel, and has been actively involved in a number of operating functions, including the sales organization and manufacturing. Raleigh has been with NovaBay for more than three years and has nearly 20 years of financial experience.

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AOA: Amazon Has Dropped Noncompliant Contact Lens Sellers

AOA plans to ‘continue to monitor the site and report retailers.’

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The American Optometric Association reports that Amazon’s marketplace no longer displays noncompliant, decorative contact lens vendors following complaints from the AOA.

The AOA explains that it had alerted the e-commerce retailer to potential violations of federal law and its own medical device policy.

In a Feb. 27 letter to Amazon, the AOA emphasized that contact lenses — whether corrective or plano — are U.S. Food and Drug Administration-regulated medical devices that not only require a prescription from a licensed practitioner for purchase, but also fall under Amazon’s own policy for “Medical Devices and Accessories.” That policy mandates how sellers must abide by all federal, state and local laws, which in this case, the AOA noted, includes patient protection provisions of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumer Act (FCLCA).

Per federal law, vendors “may sell contact lenses only in accordance with a contact lens prescription for the patient that is (1) presented to the seller by the patient or prescriber directly or by facsimile; or (2) verified by direct communication.”

AOA’s letter noted: “The contact lenses available for sale on Amazon are sold entirely without a prescription, which we believe is an FCLCA violation.” Furthermore, “in addition to sales via (Amazon’s) platform raising legal questions related to the FCLCA, the guidance provided by sellers regarding these FDA-regulated medical devices is very concerning.”

The AOA’s letter document instructions from vendors such as “… gently press the contact lens opposite clockwise or counterclockwise turn 30 times [sic], and put in a box for a new care solution … if you do not use for a long time, please put in the box, soak with care solution [sic], replace the care solution every three days.”

Such guidance is “wholly inappropriate and dangerous,” the AOA states in a post on its website. It notes that proper physician oversight is necessary for medical devices that require a physician’s prescription.

According to AOA:

In response, Amazon thanked AOA for its diligence and reiterated its own medical devices policy while stating the company will take appropriate action when products are reported for legal non-compliance. As of June 4, those violating posts that AOA first identified and reported have been removed. The AOA will continue to monitor the site and report retailers.

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Ophthalmologists Hope to Undo State Law That Allows ODs to Perform Eye Surgery

They’re attempting a ballot referendum.

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A movement is afoot in Arkansas to undo recently passed state legislation that allows optometrists to perform certain surgeries.

It’s being led by Safe Surgery Arkansas, a group of medical doctors, Talk Business & Politics reports. They hope to use a ballot referendum to accomplish their goal.

R. Scott Lowery, president of the Arkansas Ophthalmological Society, was quoted saying: “Every day the people of Arkansas rely on medical doctors who have the experience and training to perform medical procedures to ensure that they are getting world class healthcare in Arkansas. We are confident that when the people are heard on this issue, they will not allow individuals without medical degrees and without surgical residencies to jeopardize the precious eyesight of Arkansans.”

The legislation was signed into law in March. The procedures that it allows optometrists to perform include selective laser trabeculoplasty and Nd:YAG laser procedures, along with injections (excluding intravenous and intraocular), removal of lid lesions and chalazion incision and curettage.

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The bill called on the Arkansas Board of Optometry to establish credentialing requirements for optometrists to perform these laser procedures, as well as require those doctors to report the outcomes of their procedures to the board.

Vicki Farmer, executive director of the Arkansas Optometry Association, was quoted noting that Arkansas legislators “overwhelmingly approved this measure during the recent session, after listening to hours of testimony and debate, and learning optometrists in other states, like Oklahoma, have been safely performing these procedures for more than 20 years.”

Read more at Talk Business & Politics

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