MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Sticks and stones may break Medtronic Inc.’s (NYSE:MDT) bone business, as analysts predict that the growing controversy over the company’s Infuse bone-growth product may lead the medical device giant to shed that arm entirely.
The prediction comes on the heels of a critical review of the company’s spinal fusion product (rhBMP-2) published in the Spine Journal last week, alleging that Infuse causes excess bone growth in the spinal canal and that researchers on the company payroll covered it up.
In light of ongoing investigations, Wells Fargo Securities sell-side analyst Lawrence Biegelsen suggested downgraded Medtronic’s status to "market perform" and warned that the recent charges were "just the tip of the iceberg," Forbes reported.
Biegelsen listed six outcomes for Medtronic’s spinal business, including a significant reduction in sales, potential FDA review, and potentially larger criminal penalties.
Last week’s study piled on to May allegations that Medtronic’s paid consultants may have concealed Infuse’s potential to increase infertility risk in men.
Those gripes piled on to the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s probe of alleged off-label marketing, which may have made up 70 to 80 percent of the product’s sales, which were last reported at $800 million per year.
MDT stock was down 3.07 percent to $37.93 in mid-day trading today.
Making diabetes into a game
A free mobile app by HealthSeeker uses gamification to turn diabetes management and health improvement into recreation, MobiHealthNews reported.
The app, available on iPhone and Android platforms, launched last week in collaboration with the Diabetes Hands Foundation and the Joslin Diabetes Center. Users complete "missions" that encourage healthy activity, and earn "kudos" from other players.
The game was born on Facebook, where it already had 8,000 users.
Nanofibers are finding their place in medicine
Raleigh, N.C.-based startup Xanofi may be on to something by developing technology to make nanofiber production faster, cheaper and scalable using shear force from liquids, MedCity News wrote.
Nanofibers are traditionally made using either electric charge in a technique called "electrospinning", or by using extremely high temperatures in a method called "meltblowing".
Xanofi is in talks with companies in various industries who may want to license the technology, and that could bring them into the medical field.
The nanofiber market was $80.7 million in 2009 and is forecast to reach $2.2 billion by 2020, MedCity News reported.
Pediatrics has bested many obstacles, but there are more to come
Pediatric medicine has managed to overcome many challenges to improve the health and safety of children, but new difficulties have taken the place of old, Nancy Fliesler of the Children’s Hospital Boston wrote.
In the past 50 years, news pediatric practice guidelines have brought down rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, all but eliminated Reye’s Syndrome and managed to cure more than 90 percent of cases of childhood leukemia.
But new challenges have emerged, including "epidemics" of obesity, autism and childhood diabetes. Puberty is getting earlier and earlier, possibly related to the rise of childhood obesity.