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Health Care Reform: Further Taxing The Device Innovation Model

Executive Summary

The tax on medical devices was a late addition to the health reform legislation but it quickly became the industry's focal point over concerns that, in an already difficult environment, this added burden could threaten to disrupt the traditional device innovation model.

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A year and a half after the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers and the official start of the economic recession, a panel of venture capitalists and other financiers in the medical device industry came together at the IN3 meeting in Boston. We asked them if they've had to change the way they look at deals. What is the trade-off between expensive, de-risked later stage deals and the kinds of returns that can be achieved by backing a winning company from start to finish? Where would they place their bets: cost-effective technologies for tried-and-true markets or novel products for unmet clinical needs, the "evolutionary vs. revolutionary" debate? And what can one do about tired syndicates? Our panel lets us in on the kinds of discussions they've been having around the table at weekly partners' meetings.

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Together, the global financial crisis and health care reform could combine to dramatically alter the device industry's traditional business model. The result could be a variety of different models arising from shifting relationships with physicians and hospitals, with the winners being companies that adapt most effectively to this changing environment.

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