With the end of the year just around the corner, MassDevice is taking a look back at 2009 and the biggest stories to hit the local medical device scene. Here’s our list of the Top 5 stories for the region during the past year:
- James Tobin steps down after 10 years in the top job at Boston Scientific: Tobin’s decade-long run as the boss at Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE:BSX) had the good (BSX grew from a $2 billion company to $8 billion in annual sales during his tenure), the bad (the botched Advanced Bionics acquisition, running up massive debt, staggering losses from 2006-2008) and the ugly (the $27 billion Guidant buyout). Still, one thing you can’t accuse Tobin of is being boring. A dose of cautious, calculating leadership from new CEO Ray Elliot seems like a good chaser.
- Stryker Biotech’s legal troubles: Stryker Corp.’s (NYSE:SYK) Hopkinton, Mass.-based biotech unit made headlines of the wrong kind at least three times during 2009, as a slow-rolling federal investigation ended in October with Stryker Biotech, its former president and three sales managers indicted on charges of promoting the off-label use of a pair of bone-growth products and lying to the Food & Drug Administration.
- Gift ban hits Massachusetts: In July, Massachusetts instituted one of the nation’s strictest bans governing industry payments to physicians — the so-called “gift ban.” Out went the promotional pen, the expense-account dinner and many other perks that medical device and pharmaceutical companies used to court doctors. In came the $50 rule and a new, public database logging every dollar spent wooing docs. Although it was the subject of much consternation and hand-wringing this summer, we haven’t heard much more about it since then.
- The Mass. Life Sciences Center gets a haircut: A billion dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to, especially when there wasn’t really a billion dollars to begin with. In one of the most under-reported stories of the year, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center came in to 2009 like a lion and is ending the year, well, a little lambish. The bulk of the center’s money is safe, but the quasi-public agency’s ability to dole out grants, loans and other discretionary funds was severely hampered by the budget crisis. Now focused simply on meeting its obligations, it’s not serving as the investment spark it was originally chartered to be. That’s a shame for the myriad Massachusetts life science start-ups that could use a boost.
- Candela’s 40 years as a local company come to an end: Syneron’s deal to pay $65 million for Wayland, Mass.-based Candela Laser Corp. ended a nearly 40-year run for Candela as an independent pioneer of laser-based cosmetic surgery. While Israel-based Syneron agreed to keep Candela and its brand intact as its American subsidiary, the end of a four-decade run is always a big deal.