The vision-correction market just got even more attractive for consumers. Visx (Santa Clara, CA) announced in late February that it would slash its per-procedure licensing fee from $250 to $100 as part of an "aggressive growth strategy," and within 24 hours most of its competitors had followed suit. Both Summit (Waltham, MA) and LaserSight (Winter Park, FL) announced that they would cut their per-procedure royalties also. Rather than $250 per procedure, Summit will charge $100-$150 per treatment, depending on which of its lasers is used, while LaserSight, which has only just begun selling its LaserScan system, will charge $130 per procedure rather than the $260 the company had planned to charge.
While Visx contends that its new pricing strategy is designed to stimulate the market and provide customers with increased resources and greater consumer pricing flexibility, even its CEO Mark Logan admits that "a price reduction of this magnitude is unusual." Industry analysts believe the company is scrambling to maintain market dominance by pricing competitors out. Visx has been the market leader in refractive surgery lasers and procedures for the last two years, with about 80% of the installed base in the USA. But in recent months the company has seen its pole position begin to fade and its stock price plunge. Last summer, the stock was up to greater than $100/share; as of February 24, the stock hovered around $18/share. —Kathy Kincade, contributing editor