ATLANTA – Alcon (ACL), a division of Novartis (NVS), is investing $250 million into an expansion of its Atlanta-area facility that will add more than 300 jobs, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported this morning.

The expansion will allow Alcon to focus on the manufacturing and development of contact lenses, including Dailies, AquaComfort Plus, Dailies Total1 and All Day Comfort.

The announced expansion comes on the heels of an approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Alcon’s pre-loaded intraocular lens delivery system to treat patients undergoing cataract surgery. The new delivery system combines the control of a manually loaded device “with the safety and convenience of a disposable, pre-loaded injector to optimize the implantation of the AcrySof IQ Aspheric IOL into the cataract patient’s eye,” Alcon said in a statement. Alcon said the design of the new delivery system creates a less invasive corneal incision during cataract surgery.

There are approximately four million cataract surgeries performed each year in the United States.

The Atlanta expansion builds upon a previous 2012 $250 million expansion to the site that included a 70,000 square-foot addition as well as the hiring of 340 new jobs. Alcon’s Atlanta facility includes approximately 850,000 square feet of manufacturing space for the company’s contact lens products lines. The company currently employs approximately 1,700 at the Atlanta facility. In addition to its Atlanta facility, Alcon manufactures contact lens products in Indonesia, Singapore and Germany.

Earlier this year, Alcon struck a deal with Google Inc. to develop “smart contact lens” capable of monitoring glucose levels in diabetes patients. The technology may also have the ability to automatically adjust to some vision problems.

Alcon’s Atlanta-area facility is part of a health-care related complex that includes approximately 2 million square-feet of space occupied by health-care providers, medical device manufacturers, health-care information technology companies and health services firms, the Chronicle said.

Alcon manufactures contact lens solution and other eye care products. Swiss-based Novartis acquired Alcon in 2010 for $51.6 billion.

While known as the Peach State, Georgia has a growing biotech industry that is supported by strong academic programs in the state’s college and university systems, including Georgia Tech and Emory University. The Atlanta area has seen new life-sciences growth in recent years, including a $1 billion investment in a plasma fractionation plant in Covington by Baxter International (Dendreon Corporation (DNDN) is planning a facility to support its cancer treatment pipeline, the Chronicle reported.

In September, Alcon opened a 37,000 square-foot global data center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Earlier this year, the Fort-Worth, Texas-based Alcon was slapped with a $110 million gender discrimination lawsuit suit filed by two former employees who alleged the company fosters a “boys club” attitude that is hostile to women. The two plaintiffs, Elyse Dickerson and Susan Orr, say the company specifically violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits gender discrimination by employers, and the U.S. Equal Pay Act.

 

October 6, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff