The rise and fall of medical technologies

When does one recognize that horse-and-buggy whips are in decline and auto-mobiles are on the rise?

When does one recognize that a new technology is a definite advance over established ones in the treatment of particular disease, in cost or quality?

Technologies go through life cycles.

A medical technology is introduced that is found effective in the management of a disease. Over time, the technology is improved upon marginally, but eventually a new technology, often radically different, emerges that is more effective or better (cheaper, less invasive, easier to use). It enters the market, takes market share from and grows, only to be later eclipsed by a new (apologies) “paradigm”. Each new technology, marginal or otherwise, advances the limit of what is possible in care.

Predicting the marginal and the more radical innovation is necessary to illustrate where medicine is headed, and its impact. Many stakeholders have interest in this — insurance companies (reimbursing technologies or covering the liabilities), venture capitalists, healthcare providers, patients, and the medical technology companies themselves.

S-curves illustrate the rise in performance or demand over time for new technologies and show the timing and relative impact of newer technologies when they emerge. Importantly, the relative timing and impact of emerging technologies can be qualitatively and quantitatively predicted. Historic data is extremely useful predicting the rise and fall of specific medical technologies in specific disease treatment.

Following are two examples of diseases with multiple technologies arcing through patient demand over time.

  • Ischemic Heart Disease Past, Current, and Future Technologies
    • Open bypass
    • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
    • Minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass (MIDCAB)
    • Percutaneous CABG
    • Stem-cell impregnated heart patches

The treatment of ischemic heart disease, given the seriousness of the disease and its prevalence, has a long history in medicine and within the past fifty years has a remarkable timeline of innovations. Ischemia is condition in which inadequate blood flow to an area due to constriction of blood vessels from inflammation or atherosclerosis can cause cell death. In the case of cardiac ischemia, in which the coronary arteries that supply the heart itself with blood are occluded, the overall cell death can result in myocardial infarction and death.

The effort to re-establish adequate blood flow to heart muscle has evolved from highly invasive surgery in which coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) requires cutting through the patient’s sternum and other tissues to access the heart, then graft arteries and/or veins to flow to the poorly supplied tissue, to (2) minimally invasive, endoscope procedures that do not require cutting the sternum to access the heart and perform the graft and significantly improve healing times and reduced complications, to as illustrated, multiple technologies rise and fall over time with their impacts and their timing considered.

Technology S-Curves in the Management of Ischemic Heart Disease

(Note: These curves are generally for illustrative purposes only; some likely dynamics may not be well represented in the above. Also note that, in practice, demand for old technologies doesn’t cease, but declines at a rate connected to the rise of competing technologies, so after peaking, the S-curves start a descent at various rates toward zero. Also, separately note that the “PTCA” labeled curve corresponds to percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, encompassing the percutaneous category of approaches to ischemic heart disease. PTCA itself has evolved from balloon angioplasty alone to the adjunctive use of stents of multiple material types with or without drug elution and even bioabsorbable stents.)
Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC

Resulting Technology Shifts

Falling: Open surgical instrumentation, bare metal stents.
Rising and leveling: thoracoscopic instrumentation, monitors
Rising later: stem-cells, extracellular matrices, atherosclerosis-reducing drugs
Rising even later: gene therapy

The minimally invasive technologies enabled by thoracoscopy (used in MIDCAB) and catheterization pulled just about all the demand out of open coronary artery bypass grafting, though the bare metal stents used initially alongside angioplasty have also been largely replaced by drug-eluting stents, which also may be replaced by drug-eluting balloon angioplasty. Stem cells and related technologies used to deliver them will later represent new growth in treatment of ischemia, at least to some degree at the expense of catheterization (PTCA and percutaneous CABG). Eventually, gene therapy may prove able to prevent the ischemia to develop in the first place.

  • Wound Management Past, Current, and Future Technologies
    • Gauze bandages/dressings
    • Hydrogel, alginate, and antimicrobial dressings
    • Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT)
    • Bioengineered skin substitutes
    • Growth factors

Another great example of a disease or condition treated by multiple evolving technologies over time is wound management, which has evolved from simple gauze dressings to advanced dressings, to systems like negative pressure wound therapy, hyperbaric oxygen and others, to biological growth factors to bioengineered skin and skin substitutes.

Technology S-Curves in the Management of Ischemic Heart Disease

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC

Resulting Technology Shifts

Falling: Traditional gauze and other simple dressings
Falling: NPWT, hyperbaric oxygen
Rising: Advanced wound dressings, bioengineered skin, growth factors

Wound management has multiple technologies concurrently available, rather than sequential (when one largely replaces the other) over time. Unsurprisingly, traditional dressings are in decline. Equipment-related technologies like NPWT and hyperbaric oxygen are on the wane as well. While wound management is not a high growth area, advanced dressings are rising due to their ability to heal wounds faster, an important factor considering that chronic, slow-healing wounds are a significant contributor to high costs. Bioengineered skin is patient-specific, characterized by faster healing and, therefore, rising.

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.

 

Where will medicine be in 2035?

An important determinant of “where medicine will be” in 2035 is the set of dynamics and forces behind healthcare delivery systems, including primarily the payment method, especially regarding reimbursement. It is clear that some form of reform in healthcare will result in a consolidation of the infrastructure paying for and managing patient populations. The infrastructure is bloated and expensive, unnecessarily adding to costs that neither the federal government nor individuals can sustain. This is not to say that I predict movement to a single payer system — that is just one perceived solution to the problem. There are far too many costs in healthcare that offer no benefits in terms of quality; indeed, such costs are a true impediment to quality. Funds that go to infrastructure (insurance companies and other intermediaries) and the demands they put on healthcare delivery work directly against quality of care. So, in the U.S., whether Obamacare persists (most likely) or is replaced with a single payer system, state administered healthcare (exchanges) or some other as-yet-unidentified form, there will be change in how healthcare is delivered from a cost/management perspective. 

From the clinical practice and technology side, there will be enormous changes to healthcare. Here are examples of what I see from tracking trends in clinical practice and medical technology development:

  • Cancer 5 year survival rates will, for many cancers, be well over 90%. Cancer will largely be transformed in most cases to chronic disease that can be effectively managed by surgery, immunology, chemotherapy and other interventions. Cancer and genomics, in particular, has been a lucrative study (see The Cancer Genome Atlas). Immunotherapy developments are also expected to be part of many oncology solutions. Cancer has been a tenacious foe, and remains one we will be fighting for a long time, but the fight will have changed from virtually incapacitating the patient to following protocols that keep cancer in check, if not cure/prevent it. 
  • Diabetes Type 1 (juvenile onset) will be managed in most patients by an “artificial pancreas”, a closed loop glucometer and insulin pump that will self-regulate blood glucose levels. OR, stem cell or other cell therapies may well achieve success in restoring normal insulin production and glucose metabolism in Type 1 patients. The odds are better that a practical, affordable artificial pancreas will developed than stem or other cell therapy, but both technologies are moving aggressively and will gain dramatic successes within 20 years.

Developments in the field of the “artificial pancreas” have recently gathered considerable pace, such that, by 2035, type 1 blood glucose management may be no more onerous than a house thermostat due to the sophistication and ease-of-use made possible with the closed loop, biofeedback capabilities of the integrated glucometer, insulin pump and the algorithms that drive it, but that will not be the end of the development of better options for type 1 diabetics. Cell therapy for type 1 diabetes, which may be readily achieved by one or more of a wide variety of cellular approaches and product forms (including cell/device hybrids) may well have progressed by 2035 to become another viable alternative for type 1 diabetics.

  • Diabetes Type 2 (adult onset) will be a significant problem governed by different dynamics than Type 1. A large body of evidence will exist that shows dramatically reduced incidence of Type 2 associated with obesity management (gastric bypass, satiety drugs, etc.) that will mitigate the growing prevalence of Type 2, but research into pharmacologic or other therapies may at best achieve only modest advances. The problem will reside in the complexity of different Type 2 manifestation, the late onset of the condition in patients who are resistant to the necessary changes in lifestyle and the global epidemic that will challenge dissemination of new technologies and clinical practices to third world populations.

Despite increasing levels of attention being raised to the burden of type 2 worldwide, including all its sequellae (vascular, retinal, kidney and other diseases), the pace of growth globally in type 2 is still such that it will represent a problem and target for pharma, biotech, medical device, and other disciplines.

  • Cell therapy and tissue engineering will offer an enormous number of solutions for conditions currently treated inadequately, if at all. Below is an illustration of the range of applications currently available or in development, a list that will expand (along with successes in each) over the next 20 years.

    Cell therapy will have deeply penetrated virtually every medical specialty by 2035. Most advanced will be those that target less complex tissues: bone, muscle, skin, and select internal organ tissues (e.g., bioengineered bladder, others). However, development will have also followed the money. Currently, development and use of conventional technologies in areas like cardiology, vascular, and neurology entails high expenditure that creates enormous investment incentive that will drive steady development of cell therapy and tissue engineering over the next 20 years, with the goal of better, long-term and/or less costly solutions.
  • Gene therapy will be an option for a majority of genetically-based diseases (especially inherited diseases) and will offer clinical options for non-inherited conditions. Advances in the analysis of inheritance and expression of genes will also enable advanced interventions to either ameliorate or actually preempt the onset of genetic disease.

    As the human genome is the engineering plans for the human body, it is a potential mother lode for the future of medicine, but it remains a complex set of plans to elucidate and exploit for the development of therapies. While genetically-based diseases may readily be addressed by gene therapies in 2035, the host of other diseases that do not have obvious genetic components will resist giving up easy gene therapy solutions. Then again, within 20 years a number of reasonable advances in understanding and intervention could open the gate to widespread “gene therapy” (in some sense) for a breadth of diseases and conditions –> Case in point, the recent emergence of the gene-editing technology, CRISPR, has set the stage for practical applications to correct genetically-based conditions.
  • Drug development will be dramatically more sophisticated, reducing the development time and cost while resulting in drugs that are far more clinically effective (and less prone to side effects). This arises from drug candidates being evaluated via distributed processing systems (or quantum computer systems) that can predict efficacy and side effect without need of expensive and exhaustive animal or human testing.The development of effective drugs will have been accelerated by both modeling systems and increases in our understanding of disease and trauma, including pharmacogenomics to predict drug response. It may not as readily follow that the costs will be reduced, something that may only happen as a result of policy decisions.
  • Most surgical procedures will achieve the ability to be virtually non-invasive. Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) will enable highly sophisticated surgery without ever making an abdominal or other (external) incision. Technologies like “gamma knife” and similar will have the ability to destroy tumors or ablate pathological tissue via completely external, energy-based systems.

    By 2035, technologies such as these will measurably reduce inpatient stays, on a per capita basis, since a significant reason for overnight stays is the trauma requiring recovery, and eliminating trauma is a major goal and advantage of minimally invasive technologies (e.g., especially the NOTES technology platform). A wide range of other technologies (e.g., gamma knife, minimally invasive surgery/intervention, etc.) across multiple categories (device, biotech, pharma) will also have emerged and succeeded in the market by producing therapeutic benefit while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage.

Information technology will radically improve patient management. Very sophisticated electronic patient records will dramatically improve patient care via reduction of contraindications, predictive systems to proactively manage disease and disease risk, and greatly improve the decision-making of physicians tasked with diagnosing and treating patients.There are few technical hurdles to the advancement of information technology in medicine, but even in 2035, infotech is very likely to still be facing real hurdles in its use as a result of the reluctance in healthcare to give up legacy systems and the inertia against change, despite the benefits.

  • Personalized medicine. Perfect matches between a condition and its treatment are the goal of personalized medicine, since patient-to-patient variation can reduce the efficacy of off-the-shelf treatment. The thinking behind gender-specific joint replacement has led to custom-printed 3D implants. The use of personalized medicine will also be manifested by testing to reveal potential emerging diseases or conditions, whose symptoms may be ameliorated or prevented by intervention before onset.
  • Systems biology will underlie the biology of most future medical advances in the next 20 years. Systems biology is a discipline focused on an integrated understanding of cell biology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, and a wide range of other individual medical and scientific disciplines. It represents an implicit recognition of an organism as an embodiment of multiple, interdependent organ systems and its processes, such that both pathology and wellness are understood from the perspective of the sum total of both the problem and the impact of possible solutions.This orientation will be intrinsic to the development of medical technologies, and will increasingly be represented by clinical trials that throw a much wider and longer-term net around relevant data, staff expertise encompassing more medical/scientific disciplines, and unforeseen solutions that present themselves as a result of this approach.Other technologies being developed aggressively now will have an impact over the next twenty years, including medical/surgical robots (or even biobots), neurotechnologies to diagnose, monitor, and treat a wide range of conditions (e.g., spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.).

The breadth and depth of advances in medicine over the next 20 years will be extraordinary, since many doors have been recently opened as a result of advances in genetics, cell biology, materials science, systems biology and others — with the collective advances further stimulating both learning and new product development. 


See the 2016 report #290, “Worldwide Markets for Medical and Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats, 2015-2022.”

New medical technologies at startups in December 2015

Listed below are the technologies under development at medical technology startups identified in December 2015 and added to the Medtech Startups Database.

  • 3D-printed, patient-specific implants
  • Therapeutic temperature management.
  • Vessel preparation angioplasty balloon.
  • Control system for minimally invasive surgical tools.
  • Surgical solutions focused on robotic and other technology.
  • Undisclosed products, but based on brain-gut pathway; principals with background in diabetes, endocrinology.
  • Robotically-assisted minimal access surgery.
  • Novel catheter device as a treatment for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

For a historical listing of medtech startups identified by month, see link.

Medtech Fundings for December 2015

Fundings in medical technology for December 2015 stand at $360.4 million, led by Spectranetics’ $110 million debt funding, followed by the $44 million launch funding of Kallyope, the $40 million funding of NxThera, and the $38.5 million funding of Axonics Modulation Technologies.

Below are the top fundings for the month, thus far. Please revisit this post (and refresh your browser) during December to see new medtech fundings.

For the complete list of fundings, see link.

For a month-by-month, historical list of fundings since 2009, see link.

The future of medtech demands more and better imagination

I frequently see conclusions about the the future of medtech derived by analysts who are walking backward looking at their feet — living by the tenet of “past is prologue”. This type of “foresight” presumes an unchanging set of forces, leading (at best) to a conclusion that the future will hold more of the same.

Yet, the future of medtech is dictated far more significantly not by what has already happened, or as a result of past trends continuing as future trends, but by what has not happened yet. The major thrust of any significant growth (and isn’t growth what interests us?) comes primarily from events that do not as clearly follow from past events:

  • Surgical device sales forecasts are uprooted by introduction of laparoscopy
  • Tissue engineering preempts conventional treatments in wound, orthopedics, cardiology…
  • Success in type 1 diabetes treatment will be determined by device advances as well as cell therapy advances
  • Systems biology reveals risks and opportunities previously unseen

If you view your markets myopically, then you consider your competitors to be limited to those whose products most resemble your own. If you have a long view, you consider what might be possible based on available/emerging technology to tap into untapped demand or simply create latent demand that no company has yet been sufficiently visionary or innovative to seize. What patient populations, clinical practice patterns and their trends are the pulse that you monitor (or are you even monitoring these)?  There is a gap between what is available and a whole set of patients virtually untreated, physicians unsatisfied, and third party payers struggling.  Are you an angioplasty catheter manufacturer — or a coronary artery disease solution?  Do you make devices — or outcomes?

Source: Yann Girard https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/life-explained-through-technology-yann-girard

Look at staid “device” companies like Baxter International and see that they have “biosurgery” divisions.  Look at Medtronic and appreciate that they are as sensitive to developments in glucose monitoring and insulin pump technologies as they are to the litany of cell therapy approaches under pursuit. (These companies are fundamentally aware of technology “S-curves” — see graphic at right.)

Virtually every area of current clinical practice is subject to change when considering drug/device hybrids, biomaterials, nanotechnology/MEMs devices and coatings, biotechnology, pharmaceutical (and its growing sophistication in drug development), western medicine and eastern medicine, healthcare reform, cost containment, RFIDs, 3D printing, information technology  — it is imperative to see the upside and downside of these.

These are some of the forces that less characteristic of the past that are leading to startling new success in medtech developments:

  • Materials technologies are redefining the nature and functional limits of medical devices
  • Technologies more closely aligned with cure than symptomatic treatment gain rapid acceptance
  • The practice of considering outcomes measures of highly diverse technology solutions to disease has ascended to prominence in the mindsets of healthcare systems and payers
  • The use of information technologies and cross-medical discipline initiatives enables rapid determination of likely success and failures in whole new ways

Aside from the demands for operational efficiency and managing cash flows, the success or failure of medical technology companies has become a reflection of how well these companies position themselves now and in the future with an imaginative long view. Companies must consider the revenue streams in Year 1, Year 5 and Year 10.

 

Technology advances in spine surgery

Manufacturers, clinicians and others focusing on technology advancement in spine surgery are not developing radical innovations, but are making enough incremental improvements in a number of ways that result in growth in the industry.  Most improvements fall into a number of categories:

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.29.36 AMNew materials technologies: Historically, spinal fusion instrumentation was fabricated from metallic biomaterials, including stainless steel and titanium alloy, because of their strength and fatigue resistance. However, one key drawback of these metallic implants is incompatibility with diagnostic imaging, including MRI and CT scans, which are crucial for visualizing changes to the spinal cord and vital soft tissue structures of the spine. To overcome these issues a variety of new materials such as biocompatible carbon fiber-reinforced (CFR) thermoplastic materials and implantable polyetheretherketone (PEEK) polymers were examined as an alternative to the traditional materials. In addition to biocompatibility, biostability and compatibility with diagnostic imaging, these advanced thermoplastic polymers provide a range of mechanical properties that are well suited to the demanding environment of spinal implants.

Implantable PEEK polymers are available today in an array of formulations, ranging from unfilled grades with varying molecular weight, to image-contrast and carbon fiber-reinforced grades. The first implantable unfilled PEEK polymer–PEEK-OPTIMA was pioneered in 1999 by United Kingdom-based Invibio Biomaterial Solutions. Introduced by Invibio in 2007 to provide controlled visibility through X-ray, CT and MRI technologies, image-contrast grades offer tailored opacity that allows for easier post-operative device placement verification by surgeons and clear assessment of the healing site. Also launched by Invibio in 2007, carbon fiber-reinforced (CFR) grades provide significantly increased strength and stiffness as well as a modulus similar to that of cortical bone.

The CD HORIZON LEGACY PEEK Rod from Medtronic Sofamor Danek and the EXPEDIUM™ PEEK Rod System from DePuy Spine, Inc., are examples, in which these polyetheretherketone (PEEK) polymers are radiolucent and have the ability to reduce scatter and artifact from CT and MRI images. [Picture source: MRI scan via Shutterstock]

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.24.36 AMComputer aided fixation of spinal implants: A number of proprietary techniques are being developed that provide computer or robotic alignment for the placement of spinal implants. Current research ensures that further developments will occur resulting in more extensive use of computer aided fixation. [Picture source: NIH]

 

percutaneous spineMinimally invasive spine surgery: Manufacturers have development technologies in percutaneous and endoscopic approaches to spine surgery that are having (and will continue to have) a significant impact on patients, clinical practice and the market for spine products.  It is producing all the expected benefits of less invasiveness — less traumatic surgery results in shorter recovery times and better outcomes and opens up spine surgery to more elderly, infirm and other patients for whom traditional spine surgery would be contraindicated. [Image: Handbook of Minimally Invasive and Percutaneous Spine Surgery; allamericanspeakers.com]

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.19.47 AMVariable axis screw systems: A variable axis screw system is a pedicular screw system that features a variable-axis head, which offers a ±25 degrees of angulation. The system also offers a pre-contoured rod. The contoured rod, along with the angulation available in the screw head, alleviates the need for rod contouring. The screw also features a pre-assembled head and double lead thread. The pre-assembled head reduces the steps required for construct assembly and the double lead thread increase the speed of screw insertion and construct assembly so that the overall operative time can be shortened. [Picture source: DePuy Synthes]

Products, technologies, markets, companies and opportunities in the spine surgery industry are the focus of the MedMarket Diligence Report #M540, “Global Market for Medical Device Technologies in Spine Surgery, 2014-2021: Established and Emerging Products, Technologies and Markets in the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Rest of World.” The next five purchasers of this report (any option) will receive a 25% discount off the published price online by entering the coupon code “spinepricectomy”.

 

Medtech fundings in August 2015

Medtech fundings for August 2015 totaled $754 million, led by the $115 million IPO of Penumbra.

Below are the top fundings for the month.

COMPANY, FUNDINGPRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY
Penumbra, Inc., has filed for a $115 million initial public offeringMicro-catheter based multi-modality device for the revascularization of an occluded vessel in the brain
LDR Holding has raised $86.5 million in a round of funding according to press reportsCervical discs in spine surgery
Mevion Medical Systems, Inc., has raised $58.84 million in a round of funding according to a regulatory filingProton radiation therapy for cancer
InVivo Therapeutics Corp. has raised $50 million in equity funding from Cowan and Company according to the companyBiomaterial scaffold for treatment of spinal cord injury
ReShape Medical, Inc., has raised $38 million in a Series D round of funding according to the companyDual balloons implanted in stomach endoscopically to create satiety in treatment for obesity
Advanced Inhalation Therapies has filed an IPO valued up to $36 millionDrug delivery

For the complete list of medtech fundings in August 2015, see link.

For a historical list of the individual fundings in medtech, by month, since 2009, see link.

Medical technologies at startups July 2015

Below is a list of the technologies under development at medical technology startups identified in July 2015 and added to the Medtech Startup Database.

  • Wound drainage devices.
  • Robotic technology.
  • Neuromodulation devices.
  • Device to detect ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in the pre-hospital environment.
  • RF ablation device for treatment of overactive bladder.
  • Infusion pump and sensing technologies for pain management during labor.
  • Arthroplasty devices.
  • Bone regeneration biomaterial.
  • Pedicle screws and interbody cages for spine surgery.
  • Developing a non-hormonal device to treat vaginal dryness and atrophy, particularly in breast cancer survivors and post-menopausal women.
  • Catheter technology for tissue resection in vascular and gastrointestinal endoluminal application

For a historical listing of medical technologies at startups since 2008, see link.

Medtech succeeds by responding to multiple demands

Medtech is resilient, adapting to the changing demands of patients, payers, regulators, and the economy, but only in the hands of the innovators who keep a finger in the wind on these demands.

  1. Comprehensive outcomes versus symptomatic intervention. Competition in medtech, heightened by cost pressures in particular, is characterized by the demand for comprehensive solutions to disease/trauma rather than technologies that simply ameliorate symptoms. Manufacturers are focusing on longer term solutions, competing against the full spectrum of therapeutic alternatives rather than incremental improvements in their widgets.
  2. Whatever the cost, make it lower. Cost is poorly understood in healthcare (hence the problem!), but it is recognized as important simply by the rate at which premiums increase, the percentage of GDP adding to healthcare spending, the cost of Medicare and other similar benchmarks. Cost is difficult to assess in medical technologies, because there are long term, unforeseen implications of nearly every medtech development. Nonetheless, the manufacturer who does not only bow down in homage to cost but also makes cost at least an implicit part of its value proposition will be quickly put out of business.
  3. The life spans of “gold standards” of treatment are getting shorter and shorter. Technology solutions are being developed, from different scientific disciplines, at such a pace as to quickly establish themselves, in a broad enough consensus, as new gold standards. Physicians are increasingly compelled to accept these new new standards or find their caseload shifting to those who do.
  4. Many manufacturers strive for being able to claim their products are “disruptive” — overturning existing paradigms. However, few medtech manufacturers really ever achieve anything more than marginal improvements. Note the relative amount of 510Ks versus PMAs in regulatory approvals (not that a PMA denotes a “disruptive” development).
  5. Materials technologies are defining what is a “device” as well as what they can accomplish. Competitive manufacturers are aggressively gaining a broad understanding of materials technologies to encompass traditional device, pharma, biopharma, biotech, cell biology and others, ensuring their success from a broadly competitive position.
  6. Interest in startup innovations by VCs and large-cap medtech companies has never been more intense, but funding still demands concrete milestones. Proof-of-concept gets entrepreneurs excited, but 510(K) or better is what gets the money flowing. This is not the credit-crunch of 2008, when the sour economy caused funding to largely dry up. Money is indeed flowing into medtech now, as evidenced by the IPO market and the volume of early stage funding, but potential investments — especially at very early stages — are no less intensively vetted. Startups must therefore carry the risk well into the development timeline, when the prospect of their products reaching the market has been demonstrated far more effectively.
  7. Medtech markets are influenced by many forces, but none more strongly than the drive of companies to succeed. Reimbursement. Regulatory hurdles. Healthcare reform. Cost reduction, even a 2.3% medical device excise tax, et cetera, et cetera. None of these hold sway over innovation and entrepreneurship. And the rate of innovation is accelerating, further insulating medtech against adverse policy decisions. Moreover, that innovation is reaching a sort of critical mass in which the convergence of different scientific disciplines — materials technology, cell biology, biotech, pharma and others — is leading to solutions that stand as formidable buttresses against market limiters.
  8. Information technology is having, and will have, profound effects on medical technology development. The manufacturers who “get” this will always gain an advantage. This happens in ways too numerous to mention in full, but worth noting are: drug and device modeling/testing systems, meta-analysis of clinical research, information technology embedded in implants (“smart” devices), and microprocessor-controlled biofeedback systems (e.g., glucose monitoring and insulin delivery). The information dimension of virtually every medtech innovation must be considered by manufacturers, given its potential to affect the cost/value of those innovations.

This is not a comprehensive list of drivers/limiters in medtech, but these stand behind the success or failure of many, many companies.

Patrick Driscoll is an industry analyst and publisher of content on advanced medtech markets through MedMarket Diligence.