Medtech sector outlook projected from the 29th J. P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference, seemed very optimistic. In addition to the packed hotel lobby, brimming with hundreds of non-attendees, also participating in action from sidelines, the conference was attended by record 8,600 attendees. In his opening remarks, Dough Braunstein, Chief Financial Officer for the firm, observed that the attendees included close to 1,200 public investors and almost 1,500 private equity and VC investors. Almost 350 companies presented with over 90% of them represented by their CEOs. The trends observed in presentations include sustained focus on R&D activities moving forward, strong product pipelines in many cases, anticipated increase in partnering activities in 2011, and objective to increase global footprint, particularly activities in China and India. Some of the specifics are noted below.
Affymetrix shared about its patented FDA cleared micro array IVD platform for complex cancer screening, with growing applications menu. The company’s OncoScan FFPE tool offers high quality copy number, genotype, and somatic mutation data with whole genome coverage and high resolution in cancer genes, for better diagnosis and selection of cancer patients. The company’s distribution agreement with Fisher Scientific, further allows them to expand commercial sales of GeneAtlas System, and its related consumables. Affymetrix announced strong balance sheet, reduction in convertible debt in 2010, and year end cash balance of $140M. Isis Pharmaceuticals CEO, Lynn Parshall shared about the company’s mission to create value through innovation, with a mature pipeline of 25 drugs, currently in development. Mipomersen is the company’s key first in class products, shown to lower triglycerides without accompanying increase in LDL cholesterol, which traditional triglyceride lowering drugs seem to do. The company’s drug discovery platform based on antisense, RNA based technology, allows for development of drugs that bind to RNA instead of proteins, which has been the focus for a long time, said Parshall. Their strong focus on partnerships including strategic alliance with GSK, allows Isis to earn payments from licensing fees, equity purchase payments and milestone payments as well as royalty arrangements. Celera, the company that made its name by mapping the first genome, was represented by CEO, Cathy Ordonez. Ordonez shared about the company’s lead position in genetic testing. Its acquisition of Berkeley Heart Labs, has enabled Celera to be supplier of both service and products. While announcing 9% reduction in workforce, Ordonez observed that Celera is focused on turning business back to profitability through various other cost saving measures and through sustained partnering efforts.
On the device side, Bruce Barclay, CEO of Hansen Medical, talked about his company’s product portfolio that is poised to access $1B+ medical robotics market. Sensei X, their robotic catheter system has been used to perform over 5000 procedures. They completed first-in-human clinical study of New Flexible Catheter Vascular Robotic System and anticipate commercialization in mid-2011. Hansen plans to escalate growth with two recent acquisitions. Through Lynx Irrigated Ablation Navigation Catheter, Hansen plans to offer treatment options for patients with atrial fibrillation. Hansen’s recent partnership with St. Jude allows it to improve clinical efficiency and ease of use. And its proprietary therapy delivery device FOSSL, Fiber Optic Sharp Sensing and Localization allows for visualization of catheter inside the body. The organization is focused on commercial execution and going forward aims to create marketplace traction and expansion in the growing electrophysiology business, said Barclay. Chairman and CEO of Gilead, Dr. John Martin shared about Gilead’s acquisition of CGI Pharma and Arresto Bioscience that expanded the company’s R&D focus. Gilead aims to introduce single tablet regimen in the form of Truvada for treatment of HIV and Martin predicted strong outlook for Gilead in 2011. Bioscience Interventional Inc. found in 2006 is in the business of interventional cardiology and critical care. While the stent market continues to grow, the company anticipates largest growth in Asia. To access the growth opportunities in Asia, Bioscience has closed its 3 US facilities and transferred activities to Singapore and Switzerland. Bioscience has developed a pipeline of next-generation products that include BioMatrix and Sparrow, through its acquisitions of Devax and Cardiomind. BioMatrix Flex is a drug-eluting stent with abluminal biodegradable polymer, BioFreedom that turns DES into BMS, allowing for completely polymer-free drug coated stent. Sparrow is a novel ultra-low profile stent on a wire system, world’s smallest stents with possible applications in neurological procedures. Bioscience anticipates strong growth through innovative product pipeline and through its partnerships in China, including investment in Hony Capital.