Fred Vermeer has replaced Paul Donald as chairman of Vistakon Europe. He had previously run Vistakon's Australian-based Asia/Pacific operations. Donald has moved to Johnson & Johnson's world headquarters in Florida to act as president of Vistakon's global franchise team.

Meanwhile, Vistakon has finally settled a 6-year-old class action suit in the USA over its refusal to sell disposable contact lenses through alternative channels of distribution, a policy which allegedly inflated their retail price. Vistakon will pay a total of up to $60 million to the plaintiffs in the form of cash, products and services. The court recognized, however, Vistakon's right to sell its products only to clients that obey federal and state laws, including mail order houses that resell them with valid prescriptions.

In the 1st quarter ended March 31, Vistakon's disposable lens business contributed to a sales increase of 15.1 for the medical devices and diagnostics segment of Johnson & Johnson, adjusted to eliminate the impact of disposals. The whole group had a 6.5 percent sales increase to $7.8 billion, with a 10.1 percent gain in local currencies. Net earnings grew by 14.2 percent. J&J has decided to go for a 2-for-1 stock split.