Novartis (NYSE:NVS) is reportedly backing off a 2016 start date to test its autofocusing contact lens in clinical trials, but it told Reuters that the product is “progressing steadily” in its collaboration with Google (NSDQ:GOOGL).
In 2014, CEO Joe Jimenez said he hoped the lens would be on the market in 5 years and last year he said his company’s Alcon eye care unit was on track to begin clinical testing in 2016.
“It is too early to say when exactly human clinical trials for these lenses will begin,” a spokeswoman for the Basel-based drug-maker told Reuters. “This is a very technically complex process and both sides are learning as we go along. We will provide updates at the appropriate time,”
Novartis and Google inked a partnership 2 years ago to develop an autofocusing lens for people with presbyopia and a lens that can measure blood glucose levels in diabetes patients.
The noninvasive lenses for diabetic patients could present an alternative to finger-pricks and an autofocusing lens could help patients whose ability to focus degenerates as they age. The company has not commented on when testing for the diabetes lens will start, according to Reuters.
Since Google and Novartis landed a deal in 2014, Alcon’s sales have declined and it has undergone changes to its leadership team. New division head Mike Ball has been charged with halting the company’s revenue slide in case the unit is sold. But the spokeswoman said that did not prevent investment in projects such as the lens effort with Google.
“Advancing innovation such as the smart lens technology, is a key part of Alcon’s growth strategy,” the spokeswoman told the news outlet. “The ‘smart lens’ technology has the potential to transform eye care and further enhance our pipeline … in the contact lens and intraocular lens space.”