Alcon: the story of a pharmacy that became a multinational company

Alcon is a Swiss company that is a world leader in ophthalmology. The company develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of products for the treatment and prevention of ophthalmic diseases.

Alcon was founded in 1945 and is now a subsidiary of Novartis. The company has more than 17,000 employees worldwide and operates in more than 180 countries.

Alcon's main products include:

  • Intraocular lenses (IOLs) for the treatment of cataracts and other eye diseases
  • Ophthalmic surgical instruments and consumables
  • Drugs for the treatment of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases

Alcon is one of the leading developers and manufacturers of ophthalmic products. The company plays an important role in improving vision and quality of life for people around the world.

The company went through several stages to become the multinational corporation it is today.

It happened on 16 May 1947 when Robert Alexander and William Conner combined the first syllables of their names to create Alcon Pharmacy, a small pharmacy in Fort Worth, Texas.

William Conner worked on a farm, but his big dream was to become a doctor. However, he didn't have the money to go to medical school. What did he do? Together with Robert Alexander, he opened a pharmacy. There they began to understand the needs of the doctors of the time and to find solutions.

During the day, Alexander and Conner took prescriptions from doctors, and at night, using a blender and a pressure cooker, they prepared vitamin preparations for injection.

So began the story of an international company based in Switzerland with an annual turnover of $8,222 million, of which $2,139 million comes from the sale of contact lenses.

"No one could have predicted that a small pharmacy would help shape the eye care industry into what it is today," says David Endicott, CEO of Alcon.

Robert Alexander and William Conner are arguably the driving force behind the creation of the first Droptainer eye drop dispenser bottle in 1953, the launch of the first Focus soft contact lens for periodic replacement only in 1990 and the approval of the AcrySof IQ intraocular lens (IOL) in 1994.

Alcon has gone through several phases during its existence: in 1977 it was bought by the transnational conglomerate Nestlé, which expanded its presence in South America and Europe and is now represented in more than 75 countries.

In 2002, Nestlé began to divest its shareholding in Alcon, which, through various transfers over time, became the property of Novartis.

Alcon completed its separation from Novartis in 2019 and has since operated as an independent listed company.

Alcon helps people see better. Surgical and ophthalmic products impact the lives of more than 260 million people each year with conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases and refractive defects. More than 20,000 employees improve lives through innovative products, professional partnerships and eye care programmes that increase access to quality eye care products.


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