Sunday, May 10, 2009

2009 AANS - How can you not love San Diego>

The SpineBlogger had the opportunity to attend the AANS in San Diego. As per the commentary from surgeons and industry professionals alike, this meeting needs to be euthanized. The patient was on life support witnessed by what a few neuro-surgeons observed. And God only knows how to diagnose a patient. This has become another spinal implant meeting with no neuro-vascular companies. If there were a few non-hardware companies they were well hidden behind Danek, Globus, Synthes, Zimmer, DePuy etc..... So what's the skinny? As I walked down the aisle, and I'm not talking marriage here, there were companies with many of the same "me too" products. Let me count the ways. There was X-Spine, Spine Source, US Spine, Custom Spine/Hydrocision (I'll get to them later), Vertecor, aka Innovative Interbody, Ulrich, Choice Spine, Spine Wave and a whole array of biologic companies. I do not include the Seven Sisters better known as the "SS" of the industry because these companies are playing in a different market. Yet, let's look at these hardware companies. How many more Pedicle Screws does the industry need? They all seem to make the same claims, i.e. more screw head angulation, better screw thread profile, low-profile screw heads, yet, SpineBlogger continues to ask the age old question that a Middle Eastern Sage stated at the meeting; "Is it new? Is it true? Does it make a difference?" Hmmmmm! I think not! These products do not enhance fusion anymore than what's out there. Maybe if you drink enough of your own Kool-Aid (do I conjure up visions of Jim Jones) you can go to bed having fairy tale dreams of some company acquiring your technology for 5X. So what's going on? It is quite evident that the Capital Express has left the station. No more leveraging other peoples monies. It's time to suck it up, come up with some new IP and start being responsible for managing your own companies. Either you're interested in building a company or you still think the party is going on. Everyone talks a big game when they leverage someone else's capital. Many of these private companies are owned, or have surgeon investors. SpineBlogger noticed the proximity of the Hydrocision booth and Custom Spine. Rumor has it that Hydrocision is in financial distress. No coincidence that Lew (how big is this guy's ego?) Bennett is President of Custom Spine and a Board of Director for Hydrocision. Someone asked; "Is this guy still alive?" He's like a Timex, he takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. Spine Wave needs a Cross Connector, can anyone help? X-Spine needs lumbar interbody implants, Vertecor is looking for distributors and consultants, and Doug Daniels/Hydrocision needs an infusion of cash. The usual rumor mill had Synthes going after Globus, and Globus still in litigation with Medtronic. After all was said and done, I could only reminisce to the days when Don Meredith (former Dallas Cowboy great) use to sign off on Monday Night Football; "Turn off the lights, the parties over!" If you were at the meeting, SpineBlogger wants to hear your take on this meeting.

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