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VSP to Open 3 Brick-and-Mortar Stores

The company will also launch a ‘doctor-centric alternative to private equity.’

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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – VSP Global announced that it plans to open three brick-and-mortar Eyeconic locations and launch of VSP Ventures, a business unit designed to offer “a care-focused choice for doctors looking to transition their practices.”

“Benefits managers are demanding more substantial retail options and doctors have been asking VSP to create a doctor-centric alternative to private equity. It’s critical for VSP to ensure this evolving landscape serves both our members and VSP network doctors in mutually beneficial ways,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of VSP Global. “A well-defined network strategy, which includes retail, allows us to provide a variety of options for doctors at every career stage and in every kind of practice setting — from privately owned, to dispensary-managed, to VSP-owned and operated.”

VSP Ventures “will facilitate practice transitions for doctors looking to retire or evolve to a different model,” according to a press release. The company said additional details will be announced soon.

The three Eyeconic stores will open in the Chicago market throughout 2019. The stores will be an extension of VSP’s ecommerce site, eyeconic.com.

“In collaboration with our innovation lab, The Shop, we’ve identified a unique, uncommitted customer who seeks a differentiated eye care and eyewear-buying experience,” said Bill Vaughan, president of VSP Retail. “In partnership with a Doctor of Optometry, Eyeconic is well-positioned to meet changing customer requirements by creating a digital and physical brand environment based on personalization, choice, and well-being.”

Each store will be wholly owned and operated by VSP with a sublease model for VSP network doctors.

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Market selection was “strategically focused on regions that have shown high numbers of out-of-network claims at optical chains and mass retailers,” according to the release.

“Our goal is to create more opportunities for doctors,” said Guyette. “Without a strategic retail footprint, we risk closing the door on key clients, as well as the 20 percent of consumers who are choosing retail and even online-based eyewear stores over private practice. This is about smart growth that allows VSP to win more contracts and, in turn, more patients to drive into Premier Program practices.”

Details and exact locations of the Eyeconic concept stores will be announced in the coming months, the company stated.

“As a doctor-governed organization, VSP is continually looking for ways to advantage doctors in the decisions we make and this comprehensive retail strategy is no exception,” said Gordon Jennings, OD, VSP Global board chairman. “This is about growth that helps doctors achieve long-term success, while allowing VSP to fulfill its mission of providing access to quality eye care and eyewear to as many people as possible.”

More information is available at www.JustTheFactsVSP.com.

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Vision Biotech Firm Changes Name

The company focuses on gene therapy.

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Ophthotech Corp., a biotech company focused on diseases of the eye, announced that it is changing its name to IVERIC bio Inc.

The change is part of a “transition strategy to focus on discovering and developing novel gene therapy solutions to treat orphan inherited retinal diseases with unmet medical needs,” the company said in a press release.

The firm will trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the new ticker symbol “ISEE.” Its new corporate website at www.ivericbio.com.

“We are excited about our re-branding and corporate name change reflecting our transition to a gene therapy focused company developing treatments for patients with orphan inherited retinal diseases,” stated Glenn P. Sblendorio, CEO and president of IVERIC bio. “We are executing a strategy that leverages our retinal expertise and provides a clear path forward with multiple orphan IRD gene therapy programs.

“We believe this is an important time for the Company as we advance our diversified pipeline of scientifically compelling gene therapy programs and explore new gene therapy opportunities for the treatment of orphan IRDs and generate value for our shareholders.”

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Dr. Kourous A. Rezaei, chief medical officer of IVERIC bio,  said: “We believe that gene therapy is the ideal solution to treat patients with orphan inherited retinal diseases for which there are no treatment options available.

“Our goal is to partner with physicians to address this significant unmet medical need, prevent vision loss and transform the lives of our patients. We look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Our clinical therapeutic programs continue to remain on track, with clinical data expected by the end of 2019 and 2020 for these programs. If data are positive for these programs, we may seek partnership opportunities for future clincal development.”

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Eyewear Company Settles with VSP, Gets Reinstated in Network

VSP removed Aspex from its provider list in 2010.

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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – VSP Global and Aspex Eyewear Inc. announced that Aspex has agreed to pay a financial settlement to VSP Global.

Aspex Eyewear will be reinstated as an in-network frame provider under VSP’s vision care insurance policies.

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Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The settlement arises from several lawsuits filed by Aspex Eyewear against VSP and Marchon Eyewear, according to a joint statement from VSP and Aspex.

“While court rulings over several years have resulted in favorable decisions for VSP Global, we are nevertheless pleased with this agreement and the opportunity for our respective organizations to move forward,” said Thomas A. Fessler, chief legal counsel and general counsel of VSP Global.

Thierry Ifergan, executive vice president of Aspex Eyewear, said: “Aspex is happy to be reinstated as an in-network frame provider. We are excited to offer Aspex’s top fashion and innovative technologies to VSP’s members through their extensive network of eye care professionals.”

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The Sacramento Business Journal has reported that VSP decided “to remove Aspex from its in-network provider list in 2010 after the Canadian eyewear company sued two VSP subsidiaries for patent infringement.”

Aspex then filed suit alleging “breach of contract, antitrust violations and unfair business practices” by VSP in connection with that decision, according to the Business Journal.

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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.

“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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