GENESIS AND HISTORY OF THE COS
In 1994, the Center for Ophthalmic Specialized care (COS) was planned and opened in 1995, then bearing the name Centre d’Ophtalmologie de La Source. It was founded by Drs Carl P. Herbort Jr, Carlos Auer, François-Xavier Borruat, Danielle Marie-Anne and Caroline Rochat. It is a multidisciplinary ophthalmic center with strong points in uveitis and inflammatory and infectious diseases, eye adnexa diseases, medical retina and care of surgical cases in association with Dr Christian de Courten. The COS collaborates with the Ophthalmic Center of Montchoisi, where it executes certain services such as ocular angiography and surgery. The latter is a multifunctional clinical center dedicated to ocular disorders.
In 1996, the drug scopolamine (eyedrops) doubled in price and ceased to be covered by the swiss health insurance system, at the request of the manufacturer. This medication is essential in ophthalmology. The alternative drugs were made by the same producer and suffered the same fate. The COS, through Dr Carl P. Herbort Jr, denounced this situation. He officially asked the swiss Price Watchdog (Surveillant des Prix or “Monsieur Prix”) and the Federal Social Insurance Office (OFAS) to put these eyedrops back in the list of medicine covered by health insurance. Dr Carl P. Herbort Jr also spoke on television about this subject in February 1996, in the TV show “A bon entendeur” on TSR.
In 2006, the COS was a pioneer in the fight against age-related macular degeneration (wet ARMD). It was one of two first ophthalmic centers in Lausanne which started intravitreal injections of Avastin (originally an anti-cancer drug). The first two patients were treated by using an intravenous administration with the assistance of an oncologist. The next ones received a direct injection into the eye. To this end, the COS had the 100 mg vial divided in small doses at CHF 100.- each. The efficacy was formidable. But 3 years later, the pharmaceutical industry put on the market a quasi-identical molecule at CHF 1800.- per treatment. The drug agency Swissmedic authorized it for ocular use. Doctors were legally obliged to use this 20 times more expensive “new” drug. Thereafter, the COS continued to use Avastin, often at the request of patients and for those without insurance. The superiority of the “new” substance was never established.
In 2008, the center took its current name after its relocation in the area of La Grotte. Then it moved to its final premises at the rue Charles-Monnard 6, 1003 Lausanne. The COS is thus ideally situated. The Lausanne city center (Place Saint-François) and a CFF international train station are both within walking distance. A parking lot as well as numerous public transport stops and lines are located nearby (more information here). The COS now has a larger working space at its disposal too: an additional examination room, a dedicated secretary’s office, a spacious and welcoming waiting room and overall better facilities.
In 2013, the COS celebrated 20 years of existence. On that occasion, the COS organized an international symposium at the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne which gathered more than a 100 participants who were able to listen to speakers from 8 countries. Actually, the COS is also a uveitis teaching center in the residency stage or, for short periods, for the fellowship stage. Internship are possible too. During all those years, the COS has continuously been active in medical teaching and research. It notably has played a decisive role in setting up the annual Ophthalmic Winter Seminar for swiss ophthalmologists which took place from 1996 to 2009 and numerous other local symposiums.
In 2017, Dr Carl P. Herbort Jr, as president of the SOIE (Society for Ophthalmo-immunoinfectiology in Europe), was the organizer of the 14th Ocular Inflammation Society Congress. All members of the COS have participated in the practical preparation of this worldwide event which gathered about 800 specialists in ocular inflammation coming from 5 continents. Meetings were organized jointly in hotels Royal Savoy and Carlton. The congress was a major success, all the more so because “it was autumn when it was beautiful, a season which only exists in North America; there they call it indian summer”.