Los Angeles County is home to several hundred medical device makers. Here are some of the larger or more prominent manufacturers:
Advanced Bionics Corp.
Neurological treatment devices
Manufactures bionic devices to treat neurological conditions, such as hearing loss and chronic pain. First product was a cochlear implant that restores hearing to the deaf more effectively than conventional hearing aids. Its success prompted Boston Scientific Co. in 2004 to acquire the privately held company for $740 million from noted serial entrepreneur Alfred Mann, who founded it in 1993. Latest product is an implantable spinal cord stimulation device to relieve chronic pain by sending tiny electrical impulses to nerves to mask pain signals going to the brain. Technology was based on research from USC's Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering. Company scheduled to relocate headquarters to a larger facility at the Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia.
OSI Systems Inc.
Medical monitoring and anesthesia systems
Publicly traded OSI Systems, better known for its security and inspection equipment, also has a medical division with products including digital medical monitoring devices, anesthesia systems, and vaporizers and ventilators used in hospitals and clinics. Also provides electrocardiogram laboratory services to pharmaceutical companies undertaking clinical trials. Medical division based in Hawthorne, with subsidiaries in Washington state and the United Kingdom obtained through acquisitions. The medical division generated $196 million in revenues last year.
BioSense Webster Inc.
Company founder Will Webster pioneered the first viable deflectable tip catheter, a tube that can be inserted into a body cavity duct or blood vessel more than 30 years ago. Biosense Webster, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1997, has gone on to become the industry leader in therapeutic and diagnostic catheters. Its software mapping tools also have changed the way cardiologists diagnose and treat irregular heart rhythms known as arrhythmias. Its Carto XP navigation and ablation system provides real-time data for three-dimensional, color-coded cardiac maps detailing electrical activity of the heart, and also tracks in real time the location of the diagnostic catheter.
Iris International Inc.
Body fluid testing systems
A publicly traded company incorporated in 1979, Iris designs and manufactures diagnostic systems and related supplies for urinalysis and body fluids testing. Diagnostic products include automated urine analyzers, urine chemistry strips, products for instrument and visual reading, and workstations that perform microscopy and chemistry testing. The company also makes centrifuges, semiautomated DNA processing workstations, and blood analysis products. Conducts government-sponsored research and development in medical imaging and software, as well as contract research for corporate clients. The company generated $63 million in revenues last year.
Founded in 1999, privately held Radlink got its start by helping doctors and clinics transition into the digital age with products to convert bulky X-ray films into a more efficiently stored and managed electronic form. Latest product is a filmless imaging system employing reusable cassettes with proprietary laser and fiber optic technology developed by founder Richard Gerlach. Manufacturing costs are low enough that the CR Pro can be sold for around $45,000, compared to the $125,000 to $150,000 for the high-end systems found at a typical imaging center. The company also markets software for organizing and accessing the database of images to be viewed either on site or over the Internet.
Staar Surgical Co.
Ophthalmic surgical devices
Publicly traded Staar develops and manufactures a variety of implanted intraocular lenses and other ophthalmic products to improve or correct the vision of patients with cataracts, glaucoma and simple refractive conditions such as nearsightedness. Its latest product, the Visian ICL, is a foldable lens that requires a small incision for insertion. The lens corrects myopia and other conditions. The company is juggling a long waiting list of surgeons wanting to be trained in the procedure to treat patients whose eyesight is too poor to benefit from laser surgery. Other products include the AquaFlow implantable device that is used to drain eye fluid from glaucoma patients. The company grossed $51 million last year.
Chad Therapeutics Inc.
Therapeutic oxygen devices
Publicly traded Chad develops and makes respiratory care devices for patients suffering from pulmonary diseases. Products include oxygen delivery systems for home and hospital use. Its newest ambulatory product line allows patients to fill their own portable oxygen tanks using the home unit, an affordable alternative to tank delivery services. Its proprietary oxygen conserving technology, first introduced in 1986, enables patients more hours of oxygen from a smaller tank. The company generated about $22 million in its last fiscal year.
North American Scientific Inc.
Radiation oncology devices
The publicly traded company develops a variety of products for cancer radiation therapy. Core technology is called brachytherapy and uses iodine-based and palladium-based implantable seeds to deliver precise, low-level radioactive doses to cancerous prostate and breast cells. Latest innovation for breast cancer enables smaller incisions into the breast tissue and more convenient treatment schedule for patients. The company also offers radiation products and services used by other medical, environmental, research, and industrial clients. Revenues were about $32 million in its last fiscal year.
Diabetes management devices
Company founded by Alfred Mann as MiniMed Inc. in 1983. Was acquired in 2001, along with an affiliated research company, for more than $4 billion by Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc. the world's largest medical device company. MiniMed pioneered the idea of continuous insulin delivery with the first insulin pump, which frees diabetics from multiple daily insulin shots. Remains market leader in insulin pump therapy and glucose monitoring products. Received Food and Drug Administration approval for a real-time insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system in January. That allows patients to act more quickly to maintain healthy glucose levels and avoid diabetes-related complications, such as kidney failure and amputation. Recently changed its name to Medtronic Diabetes from MiniMed Medtronic. The unit contributed $722 million to Medtronic's $106 billion in fiscal 2006 sales.
Midmark Diagnostics Group
Digital diagnostic devices
Innovator in integrated diagnostic devices for ambulatory care, including electronic storage of patient and diagnostic data. Formed in 1978 as Brentwood Medical, the company changed its name to Midmark Diagnostics Group after its acquisition in 2000 by Versailles, Ohio-based Midmark Corp. In 1996, the company introduced a digital electrocardiogram unit that connected directly to a personal computer, so results from monitoring electrical activity of a patient's heart can be stored and accessed from a stand-alone computer or network. A more recent product, the Qmark Diagnostic PDA, allows clinicians to measure the amount the air entering and leaving a patient's lungs using handheld Pocket-PC unit.
Remote diagnostic imaging
CompuMed is a small publicly traded company with core products that enable doctors to digitally view X-rays, electrocardiograms and other diagnostic data obtained in a clinic miles away. That enables patients in small towns and remote locations to get quicker diagnosis of conditions by specialists without having to travel to a specialist's clinic or wait for films to be sent in the mail. The 30-year-old company recently branched out into diagnostic software called OsteoGram, which can be used in conjunction with standard imaging machines to screen, diagnose, and monitor osteoporosis. Revenues were under $3 million in its last fiscal year.
Da Vinci Dental Studios
The privately held company introduced the first porcelain dental veneer in 1983. Today it's one of the most prescribed cosmetic dental procedures available. A joint venture with Johnson & Johnson enabled the company to refine the material and standardize the processes to make the veneers affordable to the general public. Founder Daniel Materdomini received his ceramic training in New York City in the early 1960s under the his father, a master ceramist. Product line includes dental crowns, implants, bridges and other restorative and cosmetic dental devices utilizing new high-tech composites. The company's products are popular with celebrities and hot on the reality makeover show circuit, with use on TV shows such as "Extreme Makeover" and "The Swan."
Gamma Medica Ideas Inc.
Gamma Medica occupies a specific niche in the medical imaging industry. Its products are marketed to animal researchers and to pharmaceutical and device companies that need to monitor the effect of their experimental products during pre-clinical and clinical trials. Its two-dimensional and three-dimensional scanners and digital diagnostic software are designed for small laboratory animals such as mice and rabbits. Technology ranges from X-rays to the latest in positron emission tomography, or PET imaging. The company combined operations with Ideas ASA of Oslo, Norway, an imaging technology company, and renamed itself Gamma Medica Ideas Inc. in June 2005.
St. Jude Medical Cardiac
A unit of St. Paul, Minn.-based St. Jude Medical Inc., the company was founded in 1972 as a maker of cardiac pacemakers. It was aerospace and semiconductor entrepreneur Alfred Mann's first foray into medical devices. Mann was inspired by researchers at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory who were having problems finding a battery appropriate for a pacemaker. Siemens AG acquired the publicly held company in 1985, and later sold it to St. Jude. Products now include new cardiac resynchronization devices for heart failure, implantable defibrillators, and device programmers to treat certain cardiac arrhythmias. This month U.S. regulators approved the latest St. Jude's device developed in Sylmar, a "QuickOpt" system that can help quickly set the timing cycles for implantable defibrillator heart rhythm devices.
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