Challenges and Opportunities in the US Spine Market

A panel moderated by Justin Klein, Partner with NEA, addressed issues and challenges in the spine market, at WSGR Annual Medical Device Conference.   Just a few years ago, the spine represented the fastest growing segment of the orthopedic industry, and venture capital funded dozens of new companies each year in this space. The US spine market was growing rapidly and was estimated to exceed $8 billion by 2016. Today the U.S. spine market is flat or declining, despite the unmet needs of patients with spine conditions and related pain issues. New percutaneous and MIS technologies—accessible to both interventional pain specialists as well as spine surgeons—are gathering increasing evidence in the clinic and are emerging on the radar of strategics.

Panelists at WSGR annual medical conference on spine, Matt Alves, VP of Strategic Development with Stryker, Alex DiNello, President & CEO with Relievant Medsystems, and Earl Fender, President & CEO, Vertiflex, discussed the challenges and opportunities in this rapidly evolving spine market. Overall view from the panel was that payers are increasingly looking at clinical outcome data and there is’nt much data on appropriate clinical outcomes, particularly in chronic back pain treatment studies. Studies need to be put together that look at the effectiveness and also do cost effectiveness comparison, said DiNello. There continues to be growing scrutiny in the US on the justification for and prevalence of spinal fusion procedures. Though insurance companies are pushing back on fusions, these patients are not going anywhere and are not getting better and are finding their way back into other pain management avenues. So clearly the need exists.

According to Alves, data is pointing towards the benefits of early intervention in terms of requirement of a less invasive treatment and saving cost. Fender said that Vertiflex device is showing many advantages in terms of cost saving, less blood loss, less trauma, and no infections. It seems clear that although demand for spinal implant procedures is there and is growing, the cost-constrained environment will continue to affect the market over the forecast period. Minimally invasive approaches to spinal fusion continue to gain in popularity due to less blood loss, decreased patient trauma, and faster recovery times and all this in turn resulting in cost savings.

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