Investment in medtech and biotech: Outlook

Medtech and biotech investment is driven by an expectation of returns, but rapid advances in technology simultaneously drive excitement for their application while increasing the uncertainty in what is needed to bring those applications in the market.

MedMarket Diligence has tracked technology developments and trends in advanced medical technologies, inclusive of medical devices and the range of other technologies — in biotech, pharma, others — that impact, drive, limit, or otherwise affect markets for the management of disease and trauma. This broader perspective on new developments and a deeper understanding of their limitations is important for a couple of reasons:

  1. Healthcare systems and payers are demanding competitive cost and outcomes for specific patient populations, irrespective of technology type — it’s the endpoint that matters. This forces medical devices into de facto competition with biotech, pharma, and others.
  2. Medical devices are becoming increasingly intelligent medical devices, combining “smart” components, human-device interfaces, integration of AI in product development and products.
  3. Medical devices are rarely just “medical devices” anymore, often integrating embedded drugs, bioresorable materials, cell therapy components, etc.
  4. Many new technologies have dramatically pushed the boundaries on what medicine can potentially accomplish, from the personalized medicine enabled by genomics, these advances have served to create bigger gaps between scientific advance and commercial reality, demanding deeper understanding of the science.

The rapid pace of technology development across all these sectors and the increasing complexity of the underlying science are factors complicating the development, regulatory approval, and market introduction of advanced technologies. The unexpected size and number of the hurdles to bring these complex technologies to the market have been responsible for investment failures, such as:

  • Theranos. Investors were too ready to believe the disruptive ideas of its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. When it became clear that data did not support the technology, the value of the company plummeted.
  • Juno Therapeutics. The Seattle-based gene therapy company lost substantial share value after three patients died on a clinical trial for the company’s cell therapy treatments that were just months away from receiving regulatory approval in the US.
  • A ZS Associates study in 2016 showed that 81% of medtech companies struggle to receive an adequate return on investment

As a result, investment in biotech took a correctional hit in 2016 to deflate overblown expectations. Medtech, for its part, has seen declining investment, especially at early stages, reflecting an aversion to uncertainty in commercialization.

Below are clinical and technology areas that we see demonstrating growth and investment opportunity, but still represent challenges for executives to navigate their remaining development and commercialization obstacles:

  • Cell therapies
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Type I diabetes
    • Arthritis
    • Burn victims
    • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diabetes
    • Artificial pancreas
    • Non-invasive blood glucose measurement
  • Tissue engineering and regeneration
    • 3D printed organs
  • Brain-computer and other nervous system interfaces
    • Nerve-responsive prosthetics
    • Interfaces for patients with locked-in syndrome to communicate
    • Interfaces to enable (e.g., Stentrode) paralyzed patients to control devices
  • Robotics
    • Robotics in surgery (advancing, despite costs)
    • Robotic nurses
  • Optogenetics: light modulated nerve cells and neural circuits
  • Gene therapy
    • CRISPR
  • Localized drug delivery
  • Immuno-oncology
    • Further accelerated by genomics and computational approaches
    • Immune modulators, vaccines, adoptive cell therapies (e.g., CAR-T)
  • Drug development
    • Computational approaches to accelerate the evaluation of drug candidates
    • Organ-on-a-chip technologies to decrease the cost of drug testing

Impact on investment

  • Seed stage and Series A investment in med tech is down, reflecting an aversion to early stage uncertainty.
  • Acquisitions of early stage companies, by contrast, are up, reflecting acquiring companies to gain more control over the uncertainty
  • Need for critical insight and data to ensure patient outcomes at best costs
  • Costs of development, combined with uncertainty, demand that if the idea’s upside potential is only $10 million, then it’s time to find another idea
  • While better analysis of the hurdles to commercialization of advanced innovations will support investment, many medtech and biotech companies may opt instead for growth of established technologies into emerging markets, where the uncertainty is not science-based

 

Below is illustrated the fundings by category in 2015 and 2016, which showed a consistent drop from 2015 to 2016, driven by a widely acknowledged correction in biotech investment in 2016.

*For the sake of comparing other segments, the wound fundings above exclude the $1.8 billion IPO of Convatec in 2016.

Source: Compiled by MedMarket Diligence, LLC.

 

The Evolution of Coronary Revascularization Markets

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is the most common type of cardiovascular surgical intervention, which “bypasses” acute or chronic coronary artery obstructions via a newly created vascular conduit and thus reinstate normal or sufficient blood flow to the ischemic but still viable areas of the myocardium.

The majority of CABG surgeries (up to 75%) are still performed on the fully arrested heart which is accessed via a foot-long incision over the sternum and completely separated patient’s rib cage. Following a full sternotomy, the CABG patient is typically placed on extracorporeal cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) with a heart-lung machine, which allows the surgeon to operate on a still and bloodless field. Simultaneously, the patient’s greater saphenous vein or internal mammary artery, or both are harvested (mobilized) for use as a bypass conduit in the ongoing procedure. Depending on the location, character and number of the coronary artery occlusions, the surgery might involve between one and seven coronary bypasses.

Once the bypasses are completed, the heart is restarted and, if it functions normally, the patient is removed from the heart-lung machine and the chest is closed up, the sternum is stabilized with stainless steel wire, and the chest and leg wounds are closed with sutures or clips. Patient’s recovery from a routine uncomplicated CABG usually involves seven to ten days of hospital stay, including two to three days spent in the cardiac intensive care unit.

Less Invasive CABG

Over the past decade, several less-invasive versions of the CABG were developed with the view of reducing morbidity and potentially serious complications associated with extensive surgical trauma and the use of aortic clamping and CPB. The current arsenal of less-invasive coronary artery bypass techniques includes minimally-invasive direct CABG (MIDCAB), full-sternotomy “off-pump” CABG (OPCAB), port-access CABG (P-CAB) with peripheral cannulation and endoclamping of aorta, and endoscopic computer (robotics)-assisted CABG (C-CAB).

Designed to limit surgical trauma of conventional CABG, the MIDCAB procedure is best suited for patients with occluding lesions either in the left anterior descending (LAD) artery, or the right coronary artery (RCA). In contrast to conventional CABG, it is performed on a beating heart without the use of CPB. In MIDCAB surgery, access to targeted arteries is achieved through a limited left anterior thoracotomy in the case of occluded LAD, and right thoracotomy or limited lateral thoracotomy in cases involving diseased proximal RCA or circumflex artery. Because of the smaller surgical trauma and off-pump performance (without aorta clamping), the MIDCAB procedure typically results in fewer complications, lower morbidity and shorter hospital stays compared to conventional CABG. However, its utility is limited to a subset of patients with one or two coronary vascular targets, which constitute a small fraction (<3%) of the total caseloads referred for CABG.

The OPCAB procedure is performed on a beating heart after reduction of cardiac motion with a variety of pharmacological and mechanical devices. These include slowing the heart rate with ß-blockers and calcium channel blockers and the use of special mechanical devices intended to stabilize the myocardium and mobilize target vessels. The use of various retraction techniques allows to gain access to vessels on the lateral and inferior surfaces of the heart. Because the OPCAB technique also involves surgical access via median sternotomy, its primary benefit is the avoidance of complications resulting from the use of cardiopulmonary bypass, not surgical trauma.

Over the past decade, the OPCAB surgery emerged as the most popular form of less-invasive coronary artery bypass procedures in the U.S, and Western Europe. By the beginning of this decade, an estimated 25% of all CABGs performed in these geographies were done without the use of CPB. However, in recent years, the relative usage of OPCAB techniques remained largely unchanged. In the view of many cardiac surgeons, the latter was predicated by the increasing morphological complexity of cases referred for CABG (rather than PCI) and generally superior immediate and longer-term bypass graft patency and patient outcomes obtainable with technically less-demanding on-pump CABG surgery.

In contrast to that, the relative usage of “neurological complications sparing” OPCAB techniques is significantly higher in major Asia-Pacific states reaching over 60% of all CABG procedures in China, India, and Japan.

The rarely used P-CAB procedure involves the use of cardiopulmonary bypass and cardioplegia of a globally arrested heart. Vascular access for CPB is achieved via the femoral artery and vein. Compared to the MIDCAB technique, the use of multiple ports allow access to different areas of the heart, thus facilitating more complete revascularization, and the motionless heart may allow a more accurate and reliable anastomosis. In distinction from conventional CABG, median sternotomy is avoided, which reduces trauma and complications. However, potential morbidity of the port-access operation includes multiple wounds at port sites, the limited thoracotomy, and the groin dissection for femoral-femoral bypass. The procedure is also technically difficult and time consuming and therefore has not achieved widespread popularity.

The Hybrid CABG-PCI procedure combines the use of surgical bypass (typically MIDCAB) and percutaneous coronary interventional techniques (angioplasty and stenting) for optimal management of multi-vessel coronary occlusions in high risk patients. The main rationale behind the utilization of hybrid procedure is to achieve maximally possible myocardial revascularization with minimally possible trauma and reduced probability of post-procedural complications. The most common variation of the hybrid revascularization involves MIDCAB-based radial anastomosis between the left anterior descending artery and left internal thoracic artery accompanied by the PTCA/stenting-based recanalization of less critical coronary artery occlusions.

CABG Utilization Trends and Procedure Volumes

Since the advent of coronary angioplasty in the late 1970s, the relative role and share of CABG procedures in myocardial revascularization have been steadily declining due to a continuing penetration of treated patient caseloads by a less invasive PTCA. This general trend was further expedited by the advent of coronary stents. At the very end of the past decade, the rate of transition towards percutaneous coronary interventions in myocardial revascularization started tapering off, primarily due to growing maturity of PTCA/stenting technology and nearly full coverage of patient caseloads with one- or uncomplicated two-vessel disease amendable through angioplasty and stenting. At the same time, a growing popularity of the less-invasive CABG regimens resulted in some additional influx into CABG caseloads from a no-option patient cohort. A less-invasive surgical coronary bypass also emerged as a preferred treatment option for some gray-area patients that were previously referred for sub-optimal PTCA and stenting to avoid potential complications of conventional CABG.

In 2006 – for the first time in about two decades – the U.S. and European volumes of CABG procedures experienced a visible increase, which was repeated in 2007 and reproduced on a smaller and diminishing scale in the following two years.

The cited unexpected reversal of a long established downward procedural trend reflected an acute (and, probably, somewhat overblown) end-users’ concern about long-term safety (AMI-prone late thrombosis) of drug-eluting stents (DES), which prompted a steep decline in utilization of DES in 2006, 2007, followed by a smaller and tapering decreases in 2008 and 2009 with corresponding migration of advanced CHD patients referred for radical intervention to bare metal stenting and CABG surgery.

In 2010 – 2015 the volume of CABG surgeries remained relatively unchanged, notwithstanding a visible decline in percutaneous coronary interventions and overall myocardial revascularization procedures.

In the forthcoming years, the cumulative global volume of CABG procedures is unlikely to experience any significant changes, while their relative share in coronary revascularization can be expected to decline from about 15.4% in 2015 to roughly 12.3% by the end of the forecast period (2022). The cited assertion is based on the expectation of eventual stabilization and renewal of nominal growth in utilization of PCI in the U.S. and Europe coupled with continuation of robust expansion in the usage of percutaneous revascularization techniques in Asia-Pacific (especially India and China, where PCI volumes were growing by 20% and 10% annually over the past half decade, according to local healthcare authorities).

In 2016, the worldwide volume of CABG surgeries leveled at approximately 702.5 thousand procedures, of which roughly 35.2% involved the use of less-invasive OPCAB techniques. During the forecast period, the global number of CABG procedures is projected to experience a nominal 0.1% average annual increase to about 705.9 corresponding surgical interventions in the year 2022. Within the same time frame, the relative share of less-invasive bypass surgeries is expected to register modest gains expanding to approximately 36.7% of the total in 2022.

Coronary Revascularization Procedures, 2015-2022 
(Figures in thousands)

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-11-17-58-am
CABG and Primary PCI in Coronary Revascularization to 2022.

In, “Global Dynamics of Surgical and Interventional Cardiovascular Procedures, 2015-2022”, Report #C500, we forecast cardiovascular procedure utilization, caseload, technology trends, and device market impacts, for the U.S., Western Europe, Asia/Pacific, and Rest of World.

10 Facts About Medical Technologies that will Impress Your Friends

  1. In catheterization, a doctor can poke a hole in your leg and fix your heart.
  2. Radiosurgery can destroy a tumor and leave adjacent tissue untouched, touching the body only with energy.
  3. A doctor thousands of miles away can do surgery on you via telepresence and robotic instrumentation.
  4. Medical device implants like stents have been developed to simply dissolve over time.
  5. Doctors can see cancer via live imaging during operations to ensure that they excise it all.
  6. Type 1 diabetics may soon be able to so easily manage their condition, via combined insulin pump / glucometer that they may almost forget they have diabetes (or cell therapy may cure them!), while Type 2 diabetics will grow in number and cost to manage.
  7. Organs are already being printed, as are other tissue implants.
  8. Neuroprosthetics, exoskeletons and related technologies are enabling wheelchair-bound and other physically challenged people to walk upright, allowing amputees to control prosthetics with their mind,
  9. Almost two-thirds of the 7,000 medical device firms in the United States have fewer than 20 employees — Medtronic employs all the rest. (OK, that’s an exaggeration.)
  10. Science fiction continues to drive the imagination of medtech innovators. Decentralized diagnostics — very small, efficient devices in the hands of a doctor that will rapidly assist in diagnoses and expedite the process of intervention — are becoming pervasive, ideally embodied in the fictional “tricorder” in Star Trek.

Medtech fundings for July 2016

Medtech fundings for July 2016 stand at $612 million, led by the $183 million IPO of Bioventus, followed by the $49 million Series C funding of VytronUS, the $32 million funding of Endotronix and the $30 million funding of Senseonics.

Below are the top fundings for the month thus far. Check back before month end to see updates.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 8.38.14 AM

For a complete list of fundings in July 2016, see link.

Where is the medtech growth?

Medical technology is, for many of its markets, being forced to look for growth from more sources, including emerging markets. Manufacturers are able to gain better margins through innovation, but their success varies by clinical application.

Cardiology. A demanding patient base (it’s life or death). Be that as it may, there are few new or untapped markets, only the opportunity for new technologies to displace existing markets. Interventional technologies are progressively enabling treatment of larger patient populations, but much growth will still be from emerging markets.

Wound management. Even the most well-established markets will see growth from innovation. The wound market just needs less growth to be happy, since small percentage growth becomes very large by volume. And yet, some of the most significant growth in the long run will be for more advanced

Surgery. Every aspect of surgery seems to be subject to attempts to improve upon it. Robotics, endoscopy, transcatheter, single-port, incisionless, natural orifice. Interventional options are increasing the treatable patient population, and it seems likely that continued development (e.g., materials, including biodegradables, use of drug or other coatings, including cells) will yield more routine procedures for more and different types of conditions, many of which have been inadequately served, if it all.

Orthopedics. Aging populations demanding more agility and mobility will drive orthopedic procedures and device use. Innovation still represents some upside, but more from 3D printing than other new technologies being introduced to practice.

Tissue/Cell Therapy. This is a technology opportunity (and represents radical innovation for most clinical areas), but it is also a set of target clinical applications, since tissues/cells are being engineered to address tissue or cell trauma or disease. Growth is displacing existing markets with new technology, such as bioengineered skin, tendons, bladders, bone, cardiac tissue, etc. These are fundamentally radical technologies for the target applications.

Below is my conceptual opinion on the balance of growth by clinical area coming from routine innovation (tweaks, improvements), radical innovation (whole new “paradigms” like cell therapy in cardiology), and emerging market growth (e.g., China, S. America).

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 1.56.13 PM

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC.

Technologies Gaining Nearly $600M Fundings in Medtech for October 2015

Fundings for medical technology reached $594 million for the month of October 2015. These are the technologies gaining funding In October 2015:

  • Tissue engineering in blood vessels, including for acellular vessels use for vascular access in ESRD
  • Magnetically adjustable spinal bracing system
  • Technologies to reduce the risk of stroke in transcarotid artery revascularization
  • Technologies to treat hearing loss
  • Surgical adhesives and sealants
  • Drug-device for novel treatment of urologic diseases
  • Drug delivery device technology
  • Minimally invasive device for the treatment of acute decompensated heart failure
  • Diagnostics for acute kidney injury
  • Catheter-based, minimally invasive treatment of endovascular arteriovenous fistula
  • Minimally invasive, non-surgical technology for circulatory support
  • Endovascular aortic aneurysm repair
  • Non-invasive intracranial pressure measurement
  • Implantable pump technology for fluid management
  • Intraoperative imaging and navigation
  • Devices for dry eye, glaucoma, others.
  • Nonsurgical device for the treatment of chronic nasal obstruction
  • Focused ultrasonic surgical devices for hemostasis, cauterization, and ablation
  • Technology for drug delivery to brain
  • Technologies for robotically-assisted minimally invasive surgery
  • Catheter based therapeutic devices for the treatment of cerebral aneurysms
  • Neuromodulation technologies
  • Renal denervation
  • Device to provide rapid allergy relief and device to monitor neonatal end-tidal carbon monoxide

For details on these, including the companies and their funding amounts, see link.