A new device for pulmonary embolism
About 12 percent of people die after developing pulmonary embolism one, according to the Cleveland Clinic. For many road warrior types (salesmen, journalists, corporate executives, etc.) the condition is a constant if under-appreciated threat. After all, PE — blood clots that lodge in the lungs and cause a whole mess of trouble — very often results when clots that form in the lower extremities during long periods of inactivity migrate to the pulmonary system.
And you thought those $40 deep vein thrombosis socks on sale at the airport were silly.
The highest-risk populations for PE are the elderly and infirm: People who are immobilized for long periods of time because of surgery, chronic illness, pregnancy or obesity. Treatment usually involves heavy doses of anticoagulant drugs such as Heparin and/or also the use of a vena cava filter.
Essentially, that’s an umbrella-like device implanted in the vena cava to free up blood flow. The technology, which dates back to the 1930s, has been used sporadically since the early 1970’s. MassDevice mainstay Boston Scientific Corp. is a player in this market and has been for decades.
And there’s a new player on the market this week, after the Food & Drug Administration gave the green light to Toronto-based Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Rex Medical L.P. of Conshohocken, Pa., to market and sell the Option IVC Filter, a device than can act as both a retrievable or permanent implant.
Naturally, both companies were high on the news, touting the potential market growth over the next four years to be somewhere in the $300 million range. But the real magic may have been resuscitating Angiotech’s stock, which crashed to 14 cents a share at the end of 2008. News of the regulatory nod helped revive Angiotech shares to the tune of a 60 percent spike on Monday, although prices have since come back to earth a little.
There’s some debate on the effectiveness of the vena cava filter, which you can read about here.
Bone cement competitor passes FDA muster
The Wall Street Journal reports that shares of Orthovita Inc. hit a four-year high Monday when the Malvern, Pa.-based company announced that its bone augmentation material won 501(K) clearance from the FDA. Analysts are quite bullish on the prospects for Cortoss, saying it’s superior to the polymethylmethacrylate cements currently marketed by Stryker Corp. and Zimmer Inc..
According to Orthovita’s website, Cortoss is an injectable, non-resorbable, polymer composite that mimics bone and can be injected into the spine to treat vertebral compression fractures. The product already has CE Mark approval in Europe and is cleared for sale in Australia.
Those are some smart shoes
In case you missed it, two companies are working to create something to combat the tendency of patients with Alzheimer’s disease to wander off.
GTX Corp., which makes global positioning satellite tracking technology, teamed up with Aetrex Worldwide a footwear manufacturer out of New Jersey, to create a shoe with an embedded GPS tracking system that can pinpoint to within 30 feet a person’s location anywhere on the planet.
This begs the question, what if they take off their shoes?
Freddy’s not dead, he’s in D.C.
A funny bit out of Washington on the debate over comparative effectiveness research, courtesy of the Journal‘s Health Blog:
“Just the term itself can cause sparks to fly, as Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee noted this morning when speaking to a Brookings Institution-sponsored conference on [comparative effectiveness research]. “I suggested [to my colleagues] that we call it ‘Fred,'” he said. “That may be less ominous.
“He continued: “Another name that we could use is ‘patient-centered outcomes research’ … or we could just call it ‘shopping.'”
An answer to one of life’s enduring riddles
Anyone who’s ever enjoyed asparagus for dinner probably wonders why their, ahem, pee smells funny after they eat the vegetable. Well, here’s the answer.