The Power of Perseverance
For many in the device space, perseverance is an absolutely essential quality, the quality from which all else flows, and few people in this industry better exemplify the spirit and virtues of perseverance than Karen Talmadge, PhD, now executive vice president, co-founder and chief science officer at Kyphon, a spine company with a truly novel technology that today has a market cap of more than a billion dollars.
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A year ago at this time, a sale to another company was the last thing on the minds of senior executives at St. Francis Medical, one of the leading companies in dynamic stabilization. But interest by large spine companies put a halt to the company's plans to go public and led to an auction that was eventually won by Kyphon. Kyphon's acquisition of St. Francis Medical was one of the device industry's biggest deals in 2006--and just what everyone was waiting for.
Though extremely successful in both clinical and financial terms, Kyphon faces a challenge: how to move from its lucrative niche more into the mainstream of spine therapy. The company's plan: to establish itself as a leader in the field of minimally-invasive spine surgery.
Until now, most spine surgeons wouldn't even treat osteoporotic fractures of the spine, referring such patients to medical management. But using technology borrowed from balloon angioplasty, Kyphon has developed instrumentation that represents a new clinical approach to this serious problem. As with most device companies, regulatory issues and reimbursement have been a challenge, as have comparisons with another spinal procedure, vertebroplasty.