Improving Vision through Innovation Since 1945
Alcon was founded in 1945 as a small ophthalmic shop in Fort Worth, Texas. View our timeline to learn how we’ve become the global leader in eye care and the second-largest division of Novartis.
1945 – Two pharmacists, Robert Alexander and William Conner, open a small pharmacy in Fort Worth, Texas, combining the first syllables of their last names to call it Alcon.
1947 – With William Conner as Alcon’s first president, Alcon Laboratories, Inc. is incorporated. The company begins manufacturing specialty pharmaceutical products. Alexander and Conner fill prescriptions during the day, and at night prepare sterile, injectable vitamins and oral products using a blender and pressure cooker.
1950 – Alcon introduces its first two ophthalmic products: Ophthalzin™ for minor eye infections and Zincfrin® for red, itchy eyes.
1953 – While on a sales call in West Texas, Robert Alexander and a local physician create and patent the DROP-TAINER® eye drop dispensing bottle, now standard for eye care products.
1959 – Alcon opens an office in Canada, beginning its international operations.
1962 – Alcon begins its patient assistance program, providing free medications to low-income glaucoma patients and supporting medical missions worldwide.
1969 – Alcon’s surgical division is formed with seven associates.
1971 – With sales of $31 million, Alcon goes public with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
1972 – Ed Schollmaier assumes the role of president. During his tenure, Alcon sales grow from $36 million to $2 billion and the company becomes the world’s largest ophthalmic company.
1978 – Swiss food company Nestlé acquires Alcon. The acquisition provides capital to accelerate Alcon’s global growth and manufacturing expansion.
1979 – Alcon begins an ongoing partnership with ORBIS International* to bring eye care services and health care provider training to impoverished communities worldwide.
1982 – The William C. Conner Research Center is established, helping Alcon significantly expand research into treatments for eye diseases and disorders.
1988 – Alcon acquires Sharpoint, Inc., expanding its surgical manufacturing capabilities.
1989 – Alcon purchases CooperVision Surgical and combines them with its existing operations to become the world’s leading ophthalmic surgical company.
1990 – Alcon’s Irvine Technology Center, the world’s foremost center for the development of ophthalmic instrumentation, opens in California.
1994 – The FDA approves Alcon’s AcrySof® intraocular lens (IOL), representing the first time a material had been developed specifically for an IOL. Today, Alcon’s portfolio of AcrySof® IOLs are the world’s most frequently implanted lenses.
1997– Alcon introduces Patanol® ophthalmic solution, now the leading prescription eye drop for treating allergic conjunctivitis.
1997– Tim Sear, a longtime leader in Alcon’s international expansion, becomes the company’s third president and CEO.
2000 – Alcon acquires Summit Autonomous and Grieshaber to enter the refractive laser market and expand its line of retinal surgery instruments.
2000 – Alcon introduces OPTI-FREE® EXPRESS®, the world’s first no-rub solution for contact lens disinfection.
2001 – Alcon introduces TRAVATAN® ophthalmic solution for lowering intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients.
2002 – Alcon offers 25 percent of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, re-entering the stock market 40 times larger than when it left in 1978.
2003 – Alcon launches several flagship products, including Systane® eye drops for the treatment of dry eye symptoms, Vigamox® ophthalmic solution for bacterial conjunctivitis or “pink eye,” CIPRODEX® optic suspension for middle and outer ear infection, and the AcrySof® Natural IOL, which filters UV and blue light.
2004 – Cary Rayment, who joined Alcon in 1989 with the CooperVision acquisition, is appointed Alcon’s fourth president and CEO.
2005 – Alcon launches the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL, which provides a full range of vision. This lens quickly becomes the global leader in multi-focal IOLs.
2006 – Alcon significantly expands its glaucoma and cataract treatments with TRAVATAN Z® ophthalmic solution, which lowers intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients and the AcrySof® Toric IOL for cataract patients withastigmatism.
2007 – Alcon introduces Pataday™ ophthalmic solution, the first once-a-day prescription eye drop for eye allergy itching.
2007 – Alcon expands its product portfolio for LASIK surgery through regulatory clearance to purchase Wavelight AG.
2008 – Alcon launches the company’s first nasal product, Patanase® nasal spray, to treat nasal allergy symptoms and AcrySof® line expansions with the Phakic and IQ ReSTOR® +3.0 D IOLs.
2008 – Novartis purchases approximately 25 percent of Nestlé’s stake in Alcon, becoming its second largest shareholder. Novartis also retains the option to purchase the remaining 52 percent of Nestlé’s ownership of Alcon beginning in 2010.
2009 – Alcon’s leading brand of intraocular lenses (IOLs), AcrySof®, exceeds 40 million implants.
2009 – Alcon Laboratories, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Alcon, is recognized for the 11th consecutive year as one of FORTUNE’s “Best Companies To Work For.”
2009 – Kevin Buehler, who joined the Alcon sales force in 1984, is appointed Alcon’s fifth president and CEO.
2010 – Alcon expands its cataract surgical portfolio with the acquisition of LenSx® Laser platform. The innovative laser technology enables surgeons to perform the most delicate manual steps of cataract surgery with image-guided visualization and laser precision.
2011 – The boards of Novartis and Alcon complete its merger agreement, giving Novartis 100 percent ownership of Alcon. The merger unites the strengths of Alcon, CIBA Vision and Novartis Ophthalmics into one eye care business, making Alcon the second-largest division of Novartis. Sales reach $10 billion.
Alcon commits to a $5 billion investment to discover and develop new and innovative treatments for vision conditions and eye diseases. This represents the largest commitment to research and development in the eye care industry.
Alcon launches DAILIES TOTAL1® contact lenses within select European markets. DAILIES TOTAL1® contact lenses are the first and only water gradient contact lenses featuring an increase from 33 percent to over 80 percent water content from core to surface, and with a surface water content that’s nearly the same as the cornea.
2012 – Alcon enters into a strategic licensing agreement with ThromboGenics to commercialize ocriplasmin outside the U.S. Ocriplasmin has the potential to become the first pharmacological treatment for vitreomacular traction (VMT) and macular hole. The licensing agreement confirms Alcon’s commitment to bringing innovative eye care treatments to patients with unmet medical needs.
Alcon enters into the ophthalmic microscope market through the acquisition of Endure Medical Systems, which specializes in advanced technology surgical microscopes. The LuxOr Ophthalmic Microscope, with applications for both cataract and vitreoretinal surgeries, offers improved intra-operative visualization.
To further improve patient outcomes in cataract surgery, Alcon acquires the ophthalmic division of SensoMotoric Instruments, providing Alcon with leading ocular surgical guidance technology.
Alcon celebrates its 30-year partnership with ORBIS International*, reaffirming its commitment to restoring sight and eliminating preventable blindness across the globe.”
*Information from Alcon.com
**Video published on YouTube by “Alexander Conner“