Business & Technology Briefs (01/2008)
Brief summaries of recent product and company developments in the device industry, including: developments in continuous glucose monitoring, new liability conerns for device companies, medtech acquisitions in 2007, and the 2008 IPO market.
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Small company DexCom, finds itself a leader in continuous glucose monitoring, the hottest new segment of glucose monitoring, a business otherwise dominated by giant companies. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is all the buzz at diabetes and critical care clinical meetings these days. CGM systems give diabetic patients in the home (or the hospital) glucose readings at any hour of the day without the need to get out the finger-stick testing paraphernalia. More than that, though, CGM is a new tool for achieving tight glycemic control, and avoiding the excursions above and below the normal glucose levels, which are responsible for the hospitalizations as well as the long-term harmful consequences of diabetes. As a frontrunner in the field, DexCom shares with Medtronic the challenge of proving the value of CGM to payers, especially since the task involves throwing over the gold standard by which successful glycemic control is measured-the HbA1c test.
Looking back on 2007 through the lens of acquisition activity reveals a lot about the current dynamics in the medtech industry. According to Windhover's Strategic Transactions Database, many of the 80 medical devices companies that were acquired last year came from the perennially hot orthopedics and cardiovascular markets. But in 2007, buyers found their targets in clinical areas that are starting to heat up: patient monitoring, in vitro diagnostics, minimally invasive surgery, and women's health. The acquirers themselves were a mixed bag--for a change, traditional buyers didn't make up the largest share. In fact, those billion dollar plus companies were as likely to divest as to acquire in 2007.
Laying out a strategy is one thing; executing it is another. That's why, from time to time, START-UP revisits companies it has written about in the past to find out what went according to plan, and what didn't. As we revisit the field of glucose monitoring--a field with a high attrition rate, we'll see if we can draw out some lessons, both from the successes and from the failures, for those starting out today. (Introduction to three separate articles in the December 2007 issue: "Pelikan Technologies Swoops in on the Big Four"; "A Decade of Development for SMSI: Will It Yield Improved Accuracy in CGM?" and "GlucoLight Makes Non-invasive Glucose Monitoring Real.")