Spectranetics Delivers on Laser's Promise
After a bright promise in the early 1980s, cardiac lasers fell out of favor due to high complication rates and equivocal clinical results. Laser pioneer Spectranetics faced those problems and more, causing the company to languish in the 1990s. Now its back, with a new marketing partner, US Surgical, in a hot new area, TMR, and a strategy that allows the company to spread its risk.
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After 17 straight years of losses, Spectranetics turned its first profit last year. Company officials believe they can sustain profitability going forward.
DIRECT, the first placebo-controlled trial of a laser myocardial revascularization technology, did not prove any benefit from the therapy, an announcement that has stirred a hornet's nest of controversy in the TMR/PMR industry. Laser companies and physicians who perform the procedures have been in damage control mode since the announcement. The event has exacerbated the challenges that laser companies were already facing in the early adoption phase of a new treatment paradigm. PLC Systems and Eclipse Surgical feel confident that their technologies are sufficiently different from that used in the DIRECT trial and are striving to reassure physicians, patients and investors. In its efforts to convince skeptical physicians or those put off by the DIRECT results, PLC is banking on its perfusion data and its positive 5-year results for its surgical TMR approach. Eclipse hopes positive results from its clinical trial will help it get approval for the first interventional approach.