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Alcon sued, accused of being unfair competitor

A Missouri company that makes surgical devices has sued Alcon, accusing the Fort Worth eye-care giant of a litany of anti-competitive behaviors.

Synergetics, which makes microsurgical instruments that are mainly used in eye and brain surgeries, disclosed the lawsuit Thursday. The company claims that Alcon's unfair practices have cost it "tens of millions of dollars."

Alcon sells ophthalmic drugs, surgical equipment, and consumer products such as contact lens solution.

Among its allegations, Synergetics accused Alcon of:

  • Disparaging Synergetics' products
  • Paying grant money to surgeons, hospitals and clinics to influence purchasing decisions
  • Predatory pricing
  • Hiring a key Synergetics manager to get product information
  • Running an unlawful rebate program
  • Threatening Synergetics with "further market lockout" unless Alcon got access to its patented technology
  • Scheming to maintain its share of the market by making sales of one product conditional on sales of another product that’s required to perform surgery
  • "For years, Synergetics and other smaller companies have been forced to watch as Alcon unfairly and increasingly controlled the vitreoretinal surgical markets, escalating healthcare costs while stifling innovative and cost effective technological advances," Synergetics USA Chief Executive Gregg Scheller said in a written statement. "The price of vitreoretinal surgery has skyrocketed under Alcon's dominance. Unfair business practices hurt all players in our industry."

    An Alcon spokeswoman on Thursday said the company never comments on ongoing litigation.

    Vitreoretinal surgeries are performed for a variety of conditions, such as repair of a detached retina.