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Learn from Italy: Adapt and Quit Hugging

As lockdowns begin to end in many countries — though not all, we’re looking at you, USA — people are beginning the mad dash toward their pre-coronavirus lives. Pubs and bars are opening and family gatherings are on the table again. And after  many months confined inside and online, the urge to hug friends and loved ones will prove impossible to resist for many.

We know, of course, that close contact causes coronavirus to spread exponentially and therefore,  social distancing guidelines need to remain in place. Italy was one of the most ravaged countries in Europe and the horrific scenes of overflowing hospitals in the northern region of Lombardy will remain with us forever. The crisis was less acute further south in Italy, although cities like Naples were still affected. Ophthalmology was severely impacted as an industry with  effects felt by manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, as much as clinicians.

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

Learn from Italy: Adapt and Quit Hugging
Innovation needs to be at the forefront of company strategy.

Alfa Intes Industria Terapeutica Splendore S.R.L. is an Italian pharmaceutical company with six decades of experience in the ophthalmology industry. Based in Naples, the company is family owned and operated, and has a broad portfolio including drugs, medical devices, nutraceuticals, surgical equipment and high-tech diagnostic instruments.

Business Development Manager Alessio David reports that the company has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus crisis, but also recognizes it as an opportunity for innovation.

“One the most impacted areas was anterior segment, where we provide, besides pharmaceuticals intended for surgical use, surgical equipment such as intraocular lenses and OVD solutions,” said Mr. David.

“Alfa Intes, as a manufacturing and development company, is engaged in a new wave of product development which is able to sterilize every organism on the ocular surface. This creates an antiseptic surface to allow ophthalmologists to operate in security and we’re sure these new products will be well received by the market,” he continued.

“It is intended to clean and prepare the ocular surface before surgery, it’s not intended for standard treatment. Povidone-iodine is a really aggressive molecule so we are moving to a safer, more stable alternative to povidone-iodine. I cannot disclose more because there’s an industry secret behind this,” Mr. David said.

An Ode to Europe (an-Ophthalmology)

Learn from Italy: Adapt and Quit Hugging
European products continue to enjoy a good reputation.

Mr. David’s comments reflect the continuing trend in ophthalmology that recognizes the absolute necessity of innovating during the coronavirus pandemic. Making changes is more important than ever, whether it’s refraining from  hugging  loved ones (as many Italians are now doing), or selling conjunctivitis treatments to help aid coronavirus patients as Alfa Intes does. Change also needs to be substantial and conscious of local economies and markets.

Mr. David reports that his company has experienced a large number of cancelled orders in Spain. As a result, Alfa Intes is adapting by focusing more on North Africa and the Middle East. This is because of the positive image European products enjoy in the region.

“There’s a general feeling that European brands and manufacturing are still top quality in niche markets like ophthalmology. For high-quality, technical products, Europe is the most reliable partner to collaborate with,” Mr. David said.

“Einstein once said  that great periods of difficulty always bring new innovations, so if this period  challenges us, we will adapt. So we Italians in general, as well as Spaniards and Europeans, will change our culture and develop new ways of working,” he added.

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