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Solta Medical was formed by the merger of two aesthetic device start-ups targeting the same customer with complementary technologies: Thermage in skin tightening and Reliant in skin resurfacing. Solta Medical’s product and marketing strategy has made it more immune in the economic downturn than its peers in aesthetic energy devices. What’s helped it most these past few years is its reliance on high margin disposables, rather than capital equipment, for the majority of its revenues.
A decade ago, incuabators were seen as the best medicine for what then ailed the medical device industry, most notably a complex regulatory pathway and a difficult venture financing climate. Perhaps not surprisingly, as both the regulatory path and venture financing grew easier in the mid 2000s, incubators began to struggle, victims of their own financing problems. More recently, two huge acquisitions, Abbott's purchase of Evalve and Medtronic's of Ardian, suggest that at least one incubator, The Foundry, is proving that incubation works.
This article was adapted from "In Glaucoma, Devices Go Eye-to-Eye with Drugs," in the September 2010 issue of Start-Up.
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.
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