Well Spine Nation, tomorrow marks the beginning of the 26th Annual North American Spine Society meeting in the Second City for exhibitors. Are there any words to express the euphoria you all must be feeling? NASS was kind enough to send TSB an invitation to drop by for some Halloween Candy, and you know what Jack Torrance said in Stanley Kubrick's infamous 1980 psychological thriller, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," so maybe Wendy when least expected We may stop by and tickle your fancy.
This will be an interesting meeting, to say the least. The theme of the meeting should be called "The ShinIng." In all likelihood there will be various national media outlets attending the 2011 lovefest as a result of many stories that have found their way onto front page news for the American public to read. Yes, fellow bloggers, TSB is sure NASS will be monitoring attendance. This will amount to a mere side show in comparison to what will be going on down on the exhibition floor. The recent Medtronic Round 1 TKO over NuVasive will definitely be worth watching, in addition, many will be monitoring how the V Brothers behave in response to being named as a party to the Olympus scandal that is unfolding on a much larger scale. Will they continue to party on, or will they be less flamboyant, even Marshall Mathers from Deutsche Bank says that this deal has nothing on the real Slim Shady,"may I have your attention please."
Lately, it seems that some of the luster has been knocked off the billion dollar baby. At close yesterday, NuVasive was rapidly approaching its 52 week low of 14.81, by closing at 14.82. It will be interesting to attend NuVa's Investor luncheon on the 3rd to hear the company's strategic plan and see whom the loyalista's are that will sit on the surgeon panel. If there is any truth to Key surgeons jumping ship to the competition, could this be a sign of some fatigue beginning to set in at NUVA? For those that have criticized our reporting on NuVasive, could they have ridden XLiF into the ground? Pioneering a surgical approach is formidable, building upon these advancements is where the challenges lie. So,who will bail next? If there is any truth to surgeons jumping ship, could investors be next? If NuVa's public relations firm is ever going to earn its keep, this meeting will be a telltale sign, considering NuVa's market cap has plummeted faster than a speeding bullet. If today's market (14.03) is a barometer of things to come as Keith Jackson use to say, "whoa nelly," As for some of our fellow bloggers whom attack TSB for NuVa bashing, get over it, the company's on the hot seat and in the news, what would you write about, the Spine Technology Awards? Sometimes it's better to be humble and stealth like, rather than roar like an engine on a 757. Panache is a double edge sword.
Another company to keep one's eyes on is Zimmer. Are they poised to do something in spine,or is spine truly the bastard step child? Let's be honest, when Zimmer acquired Spine Tech, they had no clue as to what they were getting into, and neither did their then savior Ray Elliott, the acquisition was well a Clusterf#*k from the get go. Abbott Spine just exacerbated the management deficiencies that exist at this company. Dvorak massages the analysts' by telling them the patients will come back when they are no longer afraid of losing their jobs, and they are investing in their sales infrastructure. So where will the growth come from in a zero-sum market? By raiding other companies distributors? For some the lure of a signing bonus or additional commissions will be attractive, but in reality, aren't you jumping out of the Frying pan and into the fire? And, how long before your hospitals declare you persona non grata? There has to be some innovation, if not, some type of product acquisition to jump start this Edsel.
And what about the North America Spine Society, aren't they coming into this meeting with a battered and bruised reputation based on the recent publicity some of its members have received in the press. How many more front page headlines can you withstand before the organization's governing body has to assess its policies and procedures, again. It really doesn't bode well when class warfare between surgeon and sales people becomes the rule rather than the exception, considering that we are all in this together. Thanks to some well known surgeons that believe that with the advent of Skype sales people will be replaceable, your organization does nothing more than throw gasoline on a burning fire. So fellow bloggers it's another year, and it will be your turn to judge who has the best booth, who is offering the best new technology, and how much traffic you get at your booth will be dictated by how late we all stay out, hopefully we can thank each other for making it thru another year without killing each other. PS, and don't be surprised if one of our TSB models stop by your booth and give you a squeeze.