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Australian CL manufacturer pens long-term deal with Chinese medical firm

Australia’s Capricornia Contact Lens is set to take its specialty products to the lucrative Chinese market after signing a 10-year distribution deal with a major pharmaceutical and medical equipment distributer.

The Brisbane-based manufacturer and distributor of prescription contact lenses announced the agreement with Shenzhen Relin Medicine via the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) last week.

Capricornia won the contract over other manufactures and suppliers from the US, Japan, and Europe. The deal is expected to bring the company’s Epicon scleral lens design to the Chinese market in order to satisfy an unmet need for the treatment of keratoconus and other eye disorders.

The Australian firm, which only comprises of 20 staff, also has a range of lens designs for orthokeratology and irregular corneas. It also manufactures custom soft and rigid gas-permeable lenses using state-of-the-art computer-controlled lathes.

Mr Xintao Xia is the general manager of Shenzhen Relin Medicine, which is located in Shenzhen, southeast China. The company distributes medicines and medical equipment to more than 3000 hospitals and medical clinics for several medical fields, including ophthalmology.

“There are currently no satisfactory solutions to keratoconus at the middle and late stages in China and to ametropia after keratoplasty,” Xia said.

“We had been looking for the right partners across the globe in Australia, the United States, Japan and Europe to help resolve these clinical pain points. With the assistance of leading ophthalmic experts in China and colleagues from Austrade, we were connected to Capricornia, a professional company in the field of contact lens with a history of 35 years.

“The sclera lens Capricornia produces solved the issue perfectly. As Capricornia is also looking to develop in Asia and bring their premium products to China, we happily reached a consensus on cooperation.”

Mr Tony Capitano, managing director of Capricornia, said the deal was built on the company’s Epicon design, which has been manufactured and fit since the mid-1990s.

The Epicon A lens design is said to exhibit excellent lens centration with minimal lens movement and an appropriate scleral landing zone for the Asian eye. Quadrant specific options are also available as required.

It is indicated for irregular corneas, keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration, post-surgical, corneal scarring and therapeutic for ocular surface disease.

“There is huge scope for us to make a positive impact in the treatment of eye disorders throughout China through our current advanced processes for lens manufacture but also by combining our research capability,” Capitano said.

“Large diameter scleral lenses are relatively new to China and at Capricornia we have a long history and huge experience in this specialty lens sector.”

Following the announcement, Capitano said more work would be required, including obtaining the relevant regulatory approvals and understanding China’s hospital and eye clinic environments.

“But we believe it’s a great first step and important for the future growth and continued internationalisation of Capricornia,” he added.

According to a media release, Austrade played an important role in the deal, acting as a neutral third party to assist with communications, advice and leveraging networks.

It follows China State Council policy released in April 2018, which allows Hainan Province to develop a special pilot zone to develop its international medical tourism industry.

The State Council has allowed the Hainan provincial government to directly approve the import of certain medical devices which are in need by medical organisations, but not previously registered and approved by the National Medical Products Administration.

The policy allows foreign medical device firms market access to China via Hainan first, before needing to meet the necessary requirements for access to China as a whole.