Medical Team: Facilitating Collaboration
In addition to forming the new management teams mentioned above, Saunders hired Susan Roberts, corporate vice president and
chief compliance officer, and gave her the task of tailoring the B+L global sales and marketing code for each country where
the business operates. Saunders also established a medical team headed by chief medical officer Cal Roberts, who joined the
company last March, and sits on the executive leadership team, reporting to Saunders. Roberts is an ophthalmologist and surgeon,
and represents the customer's voice in the decision-making process; manufacturing plants and new offices may have demonstration
rooms that encourage participation and input from customers, but Roberts is the voice on the inside.
In addition to weighing in on new deals, Roberts is in charge of the company's medical team, which recognizes anyone at the
company with a professional degree. Speaking by phone to Pharm Exec from the Hawaiian Eye conference on The Big Island, Roberts notes B+L has "119 MDs and ODs working for the company full-time."
After surveying personnel with professional degrees—Roberts has created an interactive, electronic newsletter for medical
team members—new ways for them to contribute became apparent. "We have a doctor from Croatia, who is working in our surgical
division in California. B+L is expanding in Eastern Europe, and there is nothing that our doctor in California would enjoy
more than to help us in Croatia—to go in there and help introduce our products, meet with doctors and be of source of knowledge
and a source of connection between the company and Croatian doctors," says Roberts.
At the Hawiian Eye conference, Roberts said the femtosecond laser, a device representing "the most disruptive change in cataract
surgery in 40 years," was the talk of the conference. B+L's femtosecond laser device, called Victus, was approved in the E.U.
in December; Saunders says he thinks the device will be approved this year in the U.S. Alcon beat B+L to market with its LenSx
femtosecond laser, but Saunders says B+L's device is capable of more than just cataract replacement surgery. "Today on the
LenSx machine, doctors have to do the procedure in one room, and then wheel the patient into the OR to do the lens replacement,"
says Saunders. "That's true on ours as well, but we're looking for ways to solve that problem, by hanging more onto the Victus
Other potential "game-changers" in the pipeline include Mapracorat in the pharmaceuticals business unit, a novel anti-inflammatory
drug in development for several indications. In the vision care unit, new contact lens materials could provide a new avenue
of growth. Saunders says B+L isn't going to be the biggest player in the eye care space, "but we don't want to be the biggest,
because I think one of our secret weapons is our agility and nimbleness, and the speed at which we can get things done."
Saunders aspires to return B+L to the public market, but says his goal right now is to "build as strong a company as we can
... 2011 was an inflection year for us, in terms of financial performance and building a pipeline, and creating a dynamic
workplace, and in some ways we have a lot more work to do. But I think we're well on our way to transforming our company."