US Alcon to launch intraocular lens production in Russia

The American company Alcon is poised to begin the production of artificial lenses for cataract surgery in Zelenograd, Moscow Region; RUR 2 bln ($31 mio) will be allocated for the development of production until 2023.

The NanOptika plant is starting the production of intraocular lenses (IOLs), a product bound to enjoy high demand in Russia. According to official statistics, there are 2.5 mio cataract patients in Russia, and 500K eye surgeries are performed annually.

Around the world, 1.3 bln people have visual impairment, including 36 mio affected by blindness. One of the causes of blindness is cataract, which affects every sixth person older than 40 and almost everyone by the age of 80. As Alexander Chukhrayev, head of Russia’s Fyodorov Eye Microsurgery Center, said at a news conference at the TASS news agency, the IOLs Americans will produce in Russia are common products, “but they have not been produced in Russia before.”

“This is the most common IOL type, which provokes the smallest number of post-surgery complications. Its local production will make it available to us for a long time,” Alexander Chukhrayev said.

He complained that the manufacturer had not yet announced the price, but said he hoped it would be at least affordable. According to Chukhrayev, his center performs about 100K cataract surgeries annually.

“The operation is free, but patients need to get a quota for it. For Moscow, quotas are now small, only 3,500 per year, but in other regions there are no problems with quotas,” the doctor noted.

Alcon Russia CEO Tatyana Gatinskaya did not say how much the Zelenograd-made IOLs will cost, but noted that the American company plans to develop in Russia in three areas.

“First, we will develop patient awareness programs on available treatments for visual impairment. We will also cooperate with the medical community to ensure doctors are familiar with the innovative treatment methods that are available today. We widely support the development of medical education for surgeons who specialize in the treatment of cataracts,” she said.

“And finally, the third area involves increasing the availability of modern technologies in Russia. If such technologies actually exist, but are not widely available or are too expensive, it means they are ineffective,” Tatyana Gatinskaya concluded.

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