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Thermage/Reliant: Evidence of Tightening in the Aesthetics Market

Executive Summary

The aesthetics industry is becoming increasingly competitive and there are very few intellectual property barriers to entry; as soon as one company develops a new wrinkle-reducing device, it's not long before others come up with something that sounds similar. Sales and marketing account for the biggest costs of medical aesthetic companies, and because a number of the newer one-product companies now find themselves bumping into their competitors in physicians' offices and at trade shows, consolidation in the industry appears to be in order. In this challenging environment, the recent merger of skin tightening company Thermage with skin resurfacing firm Reliant is designed to create a stronger competitor.

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As 2008 draws to a close, In Vivo takes stock of the major events affecting the medical device industry in 2008. Two stories continue to unfold; how the new Obama administration will control national health spending, and the financial crisis that hit the US and global economies. The latter is already taking its toll on medtech. Financial markets crashed, and so did public device companies. M&A dwindled as the year went on, with some notable--and surprising--exceptions, and the downturn is driving VCs to invest either extremely early or late. In other stories: the Department of Justice continued probing into physician conflict of interest matters, this time focusing on the influential Cardiovascular Research Foundation. Also from Washington, the 510(k) process is under review, and 2009 may see changes that make the process of demonstrating safety and effectiveness more costly for device companies. CMS instituted payment reforms affecting hospitals, although this may be good news for medtech companies offering products to help curb hospital-acquired infections and medical errors. The news was good in diabetes--for devices, not pharmaceuticals--with positive outcomes from a major trial on continuous glucose monitoring and two new markets opening up in diabetes for device manufacturers. The regulatory agency delivered some positive news to companies in cardiac rhythm management and neurostimulation too. And second generation drug-eluting stents found a market more receptive than it was a year ago.

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