Medtronic Sofamor Danek: The Trials of the Front Runner
Few companies have dominated a clinical space for as long and as thoroughly as Medtronic in spine surgery. Once a kind of clinical backwater of orthopedics, spine has become one of the fast-growing of all medical technology sectors, and MSD has played a leadership role-not just in developing new technology, but, perhaps even more importantly, in helping to establish spine surgery as a major therapeutic area and commercial market. As spine, and MSD along with it, has exploded, the company risks becoming a victim of its own success. With clinical philosophies and approaches shifting, technology advancing rapidly, and a host of competitors large and small all clamoring for piece of the pie, the challenge for MSD becomes clear: how to maintain its leadership in a market whose success it did so much to foster.
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Over the past several years, increased public scrutiny, from both Federal agencies and the general media, have focused on the close collaborations between product companies and the physicians who help them develop and test new products, alleging that some relationships are too close leading to physicians who put personal financial gain ahead of patient care. Though it was recently cleared by the Department of Justice in a high profile whistle blower case, few companies have found themselves as closely watched as spine leader Medtronic Sofamor Danek.