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Glaucoma Start-Ups Reach Critical Mass

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Having validated high intraocular pressure as a certain target for intervention, the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study spurred on a new wave of innovation in medical devices for glaucoma. Numerous start-ups formed five or six years ago are now beginning to run their devices through clinical trials. Indeed, the field seems to have gained a critical mass of attention. Start-Up has identified more than a dozen emerging device companies treating glaucoma, and the disease remains a target for development programs and acquisitions on the pharmaceutical side as well.

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In Glaucoma, Devices Go Eye-to-Eye with Drugs

Glaucoma is of serious interest to VCs and strategic investors because of its sheer size; the disease affects 3 million people, most of them managed by drugs. Glaucoma drugs have created a $4 billion market, but have several problems, the greatest of which is non-compliance. Glaukos and other device companies aim to introduce devices that are safe and efficacious enough to compete directly with drugs, rather than standing in as an alternative to today's glaucoma surgeries reserved for end-stage patients. Glaukos recently marked a first of its kind victory; with a tiny implantable ophthalmic stent, Glaukos emerged from a PMA clinical trial that convinced an FDA panel of the benefit-to-risk ratio of its approach when used as a first-line therapy in a select group.

Medical Device and In Vitro Diagnostics/Research Deal Statistics Quarterly, Q2 2009

Highlights from the Q2 2009 review of medical device and in vitro diagnostics/research dealmaking: Financings by medical device companies jumped an impressive 62% over Q1 to $847 million--primarily from private VC rounds that contributed over 90% of the total deal volume with 52 early- and late-stage transactions--indicating a possible rebound in fundraising. Medical device M&As, on the other hand, proved to be a disappointment with only ten deals raising $794 million, most of which was Covidien's $470 million cash purchase of Vnus Medical. Although there were no big mergers, some device firms instead turned to the strategic alliance as a way to gain inexpensive products and technologies. On the in vitro diagnostics/research side, financing activity captured over three times the previous quarter's dollars through 12 deals totaling $302 million, however, almost 80% of that amount was from Beckman Coulter's $239 million FOPO. VC rounds only averaged $6 million apiece, with early- and late-stage rounds together bringing in $43 million. M&A in this industry segment was almost non-existent with only two transactions adding up to $358 million, a mere third of Q1 M&A deal volume.

Medical Device and In Vitro Diagnostics/Research Deal Statistics Quarterly, Q2 2009

Highlights from the Q2 2009 review of medical device and in vitro diagnostics/research dealmaking: Financings by medical device companies jumped an impressive 62% over Q1 to $847 million--primarily from private VC rounds that contributed over 90% of the total deal volume with 52 early- and late-stage transactions--indicating a possible rebound in fundraising. Medical device M&As, on the other hand, proved to be a disappointment with only ten deals raising $794 million, most of which was Covidien's $470 million cash purchase of Vnus Medical. Although there were no big mergers, some device firms instead turned to the strategic alliance as a way to gain inexpensive products and technologies. On the in vitro diagnostics/research side, financing activity captured over three times the previous quarter's dollars through 12 deals totaling $302 million, however, almost 80% of that amount was from Beckman Coulter's $239 million FOPO. VC rounds only averaged $6 million apiece, with early- and late-stage rounds together bringing in $43 million. M&A in this industry segment was almost non-existent with only two transactions adding up to $358 million, a mere third of Q1 M&A deal volume.

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