Alphatec: Betting On the Aging Spine
Once a small manufacturer of custom products, Alphatec was acquired by HealthpointCapital in 2005 with the goal of turning the company into a major player in spine. Alphatec's strategy has been to target important new technology areas, such as minimally invasive surgery and biologics, with a special focus on elderly patients and the specific problems they face. A merger with Scient'x brought Alphatec additional products for its pipeline and, more importantly, a commercial infrastructure in Europe. Like other spine companies, Alphatec faces a host of issues, including pricing pressures, pushback on covered procedures by payors, and uncertainty at the FDA. Adding to the challenge for Alphatec: its role as a publicly traded company. A company whose product development efforts more closely resemble that of a venture-backed start-up went public, partly to raise the capital to fuel strong growth. But like any publicly traded company, Alphatec's stock has been on a roller coaster since its IPO in 2006. Last spring, the company missed its numbers and the stock took a huge hit. Critics charge that the company has lagged in product development; while company officials insist that the pipeline is rich, believing that the strong pipeline will push Alphatec into the front ranks of the industry.
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