Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vertebron: "The ship be sinkin' and we be takin' on water!"

The word on the street is that Vertebron was offered $25MM by Cardomedical.  Unfortunately, the "brain surgeons" that have run that company probably let their egos (aka greed) get in the way.  Based on what's been written on other blog sites this company has stiffed everyone from employees to vendors to stockholders.  Nice job boyz!  When Paul Sendro was hired as President and CEO and issued a press release, it was like a who's who of former Blackstone employees.  To hear that all of that top heavy management has been let go is a sign that something is not right at the good ship Vertebron.  If there is any truth to the rumor that "the ship be sinkin' and we be takin' on water"  the only suggestion that the Spineblogger has is file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.  Spineblogger wonders if there is a fire sale going on in the Middle East?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Executive Search Firms: Are they doing their jobs?

Recently, Spineblogger spoke with a few unemployed industry veterans that expressed their displeasure with the poor quality of representation by executive search firms in the industry.  The number one complaint was how unprofessional these people are in following up and identifying potential opportunities within the marketplace.  Spineblogger assured them that most firms do not represent the candidate, they represent the company that butters their bread.  The unemployed are a commodity product.  Most of these veterans understood that, yet, their complaint was lack of follow-up and helping the potential candidate prepare for the interview.  Spineblogger wants to know what you think and who are the companies that do a great job and a poor job?  Want to post a job?  It's your blogsite!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Innovative Bankruptcy

Old News is Good News!  Wow!  $75mm in Venture and Private Equity Funding.  Where have all the dollars gone, long time passing?  Has the demise of IST surprised anyone within the Spine Industry?  Probably Not!  Initially an incubator out of the Texas Back Institute, this organization had the clinical fire power (Hochshuler and Zigler) to raise VC Funding.  Along comes Scott Schorer and Dr. Hochshuler offers him the job to be CEO.  Today Hochshuler calls Scott; "The pilot that crashed the plane!"  Wow! There's a guy you would really want to work for.   The Bernie Madoff of Spine Surgeons!  So what happened to $75mm?  So called Industry experts like Robin Young called IST IP emerging technology.  Was this all hype?  IST did have a Pedicle Screw, yet, was it truly emerging technology?  IST had an interbody device, was this emerging technology? Spineblogger would speculate that the Axient Dynamic Stabilization System was going to be the product that would allow the investors to recoup a return on their investment.  Unfortunately, the design was too complicated and the Board and Management Team to short sighted.  The question that Spineblogger wants to know is whether this industry is mismanaged and misguided by the usual suspects?  Your opinion counts, let us know!

Custom Spine

Recently, Spineblogger spoke to former employees at Custom Spine.  In June of 2008 it was reported that the Company was going to be sold to a "shell company" by the name of Mimedx. After researching Mimedx, it is quite evident that the "shell" is going to hell!  Recently, Mimedx notified the SEC that it cannot file its 10Q (quarterly filing) because of the global economic crisis. This means that this company has no money.  Upon burning through roughly $20+ million in investment capital and hiring Lew Bennett as the President of SpineMedica, in all likelihood, Mimedx and its Hydrogel can be put to rest.  Lew Bennett has resigned as head of a failed venture and brings his octogenarian skills to Custom Spine.  

The question that Spineblogger wants to know is; Why would a company hire an Octogenarian to run its company?  Is it more of the same "old" thing?  Or, Is Custom Spine another Vertebron heading for Life Support

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Strike 2 for Stryker

It was reported today (2/19/09) in the NY Times that the DOJ's investigation into the marketing practices of OP-1 by Stryker (aka as Mr. 20% Growth) has resulted in two guilty pleas by a former Stryker Rep and Manager. (I'll spare them the embarrassment).  This comes on the heals of the DOJ's investigation and subsequent Federal Oversight of Stryker for inducing surgeons to use its product with cash payment.  I would like to know how they pulled that off without a monetary fine?  Something smells at the DOJ!

Stryker declined comment on the current matter.  This was an obvious response mandated by the Kalamazoo Mothership.  In 2001 the FDA approved use of BMP-7 better known as OP-1 (Osteogenic Protein -1) for Non-Unions of the Tibia and in 2004 it was approved for Non-Unions of Spinal Fusions.

Spineblogger wants your voices to be heard!  Did Stryker encourage off-label use? And, Did Stryker motivate its sales force with bonuses (anyone need a Z-3 and Rolex) for obtaining a certain number of approvals from facilities to run clinical trials.  I know what I know! Spineblogger needs to know what you know.  Why are Sales Reps going to jail, when some other folks in upper management need to be held accountable.

For a company that once practice revenue recognition anything is possible.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Future of Spine Distribution Models

Recently I spoke to a surgeon on the West Coast who stated that he heard that Sofamor Danek was evaluating the efficacy and profitability of their distribution model.  If there is doubt in what he heard, red flags were raised when it was reported that Danek intends to buy out one of its largest distributors in the Phoenix area.  Does this bode well for those working the street? Spineblogger wants to know what you think will be the future distribution model in the spine industry?  Companies are complaining that sales people don't sell anymore.  Is this a trend or is this a reality?  Will the high commissioned sales person become obsolete?     

Vertebron: Is it on Life Support

Word on the street is that Vertebron is on life support.  Its been a long time, whew!  Incubated around 2002 or 2003 by former employees of Surgical Dynamics and Howmedica, this company has gone through multiple and controversial management changes.  Can't we get along?  While attending NASS, rumor surfaced that Cardo Medical based in Los Angeles was attempting to raise capital to acquire Vertebron.  If there is any truth to this rumor, good luck raising capital in this economy. It would make sense considering Cardo Medical has Vertebron's Cervical Plate and Pedicle Screw on its website.  Has anyone heard otherwise?  The Spineblogger wants to know!

Monday, February 16, 2009

NASS Disclosure - What will it look like in 2009

The Spine Blogger recently analyzed the 2008 NASS Annual Meeting Disclosure Index.  Roughly 1200 surgeons were disclosed in the Index.  An estimated 35% acknowledged that they had some vested interest whether it be major and minor stock ownership, speaking arrangements, seats on scientific advisory boards, royalties, research and educational grants and loans from sponsors.  Another 35% claimed to have "nothing to disclose." Upon careful examination of these names, most of these surgeons looked like they were from either Europe, South America or Asia.  The other 30% claimed to have "nothing to disclose" yet, upon careful examination, some of these names have been known to structure a deal or two within the industry.  Spineblogger poses this question; Will the new mandate by the NASS Ethics Committee really help in providing transparency or will this be another AdvaMed?  Spineblogger poses the next question: Believing that a surgeon should be compensated for consulting on a project, What constitutes equitable compensation?  And, Where does the industry draw the line?   

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Recently, a formal whistleblowers complaint was unsealed in a Boston District Court against Blackstone Medical.  The question that Spineblogger would like to pose is;  Does anyone believe that the DOJ will follow through and seek legal recourse against the Lyons brothers and Blackstone or will the Paper Lion rear its ugly head?

Centinel Spine

The word on the street is that Centinel Spine is looking for new distributors for the STALIF TT and STALIF C.    These two implants are marketed as "stand-alone" devices.  The previous US distributor had done a tremendous job with this product, yet, Surgicraft opted to move in a different direction.  Supposedly, they are embroiled in litigation.  Today, it falls under the auspices of the Viscogliosi Musculoskeletal Portfolio.  If anyone is interested nows the time to call Craig Corrance (President) and qualify what the deal is.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


This is the maiden voyage of Spine News.  Our intent is to provide industry professionals with a platform where the exchange of ideas, news, job opportunities and the truth can be discussed in an open forum without Big Brother standing over us and threatening our livelihoods.  The only request that we have is that you use this platform intelligently without malicious name calling or vulgarities.  We hope that you join us and contribute to our success.  Once again, thank you, strap yourself in, and enjoy the ride.

What's being heard on the Street

During the last few weeks there have been numerous rumors regarding some of the early growth stage companies in our industry.  Has anyone heard anything about the viability and liquidity of Innovative Spine Technology, Applied Spine Technology, Disc Motion Technologies, SpineWave, AlphaTec and various entities backed by the Viscogliosi Brothers?

I would be curious to know what has been heard around the country.