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Glaser reaches settlement with Pioneer EyeCare; Retina surgeon to resume his practice in Towson


Dr. Bert M. Glaser, the well-known retina surgeon, said yesterday that he has reached a settlement with Pioneer EyeCare, a company he founded but left in June in an acrimonious split with the company's management.

The settlement allows Glaser to resume his practice in Towson, and he said he is doing that this week, with a new emphasis on treating macular degeneration.

A judge ruled in August that the terms of Glaser's contract with Pioneer prevented him from practicing within 15 miles of his former Pioneer offices after he left. He has since been seeing patients at an office in Chevy Chase. Glaser said he and his partner, Dr. Robert Murphy, would divide their time between the Chevy Chase office and the reopened Glaser Murphy Retina Treatment Center in Towson.

Glaser started Pioneer in 1994 to negotiate contracts for eye care with health maintenance organizations and to buy and manage the practices of eye doctors. His role as principal owner and executive changed in 1997, when venture capitalists, who provided $16 million, reduced his ownership stake and hired a full-time chief executive officer, Leon Kaplan.

In mid-1998, Glaser left Pioneer, and the company charged in a civil lawsuit that he had "squandered" company assets. Glaser countercharged that Pioneer had violated its contract with him by poor performance of its management services, such as billing and collecting accounts.

Both sides declined to disclose the details of the settlement. Laurens MacLure, general counsel for Pioneer, said the agreement included confidentiality provisions. He would only say the deal was a "win-win situation. It allowed us to get on with our business and them to get on with theirs."

Under the settlement, according to both Glaser and MacLure, Glaser and Murphy will be participating doctors in Pioneer's contracting network.

Pioneer's network includes 475 ophthalmologists and optometrists in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia, and 210 doctors in New Jersey, MacLure said. Pioneer has sold the practices it managed, he said, to concentrate on its managed care contracting business.

Glaser said he had no plans to develop an eye care business beyond his own practice. He said new treatments offer great promise for treatment of macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in elderly Americans.

Until recently, there was no treatment for macular degeneration, but there have been some preliminary successes in dealing with some forms of the disease. Glaser said his office would work on identifying "developments that are ready to be brought from the research lab to the clinic."

The Glaser-Murphy practice used to operate three offices in the Baltimore area, he said, but macular degeneration treatments require difficult-to-obtain equipment, so operating more than one office "didn't fit into that plan."

Pub Date: 1/08/99

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