Cambridge Heart Inc. said it plans to shift gears and market an OEM version of its Microvolt T Wave Alternans test to other manufacturers, to boost slumping sales of a product it says can determine the risk of a sudden heart attack.
The Tewksbury-based cardiac monitor maker said the company’s new marketing model involves offering the MTWA sensor technology for incorporation into other company’s stress-test products. Cambridge Heart said it’s already found its first partner, inking a non-exclusive development and distribution agreement with a “leading U.S. stress manufacturer.”
Citing “competitive considerations,” the company declined to name the partner until its product was ready for launch, in nine to 15 months.
Cambridge Heart, which likens the MTWA test to a simple treadmill-based stress test, has been dogged by reimbursement woes. It’s had difficulty getting the test covered by some of the largest private health insurers in the world, including United Health and several Blue Cross/Blue Shield affiliates, and lost a coverage decision at Well Point.
The company estimates that 20 percent of patients who could benefit from the product do not have access to it due to reimbursement issues.
The latest move isn’t completely unexpected; Cambridge Heart telegraphed its punch last month when it cut roughly 30 percent of its internal sales force to lower costs in the face of a growing capital equipment slump. Officials said then that the company would shift to using more outside distributors.
During the first quarter of 2009, Cambridge Heart posted $836,000 in sales, a 29 percent decrease from the $1.1 million it reported during the same period last year. Despite the slide, it managed to narrow its losses through a series of cost-cutting initiatives to $2.2 million, compared to $2.4 million for the 2008 first quarter.