|The TactiCath force-sensing cardiac ablation catheter|
Last week St. Jude Medical announced that it was buying ablation catheter firm Endosense, based in Geneva, in a deal worth $331 million, including $170 million in cash upfront.
The acquisition gives the company a distinct advantage over rivals, according to experts.
Endosense has pioneered the force-sensing TactiCath irrigated ablation catheter that can tell physicians in real time how much force they are applying to a heart wall during a cardiac ablation procedure to repair cardiac arrhythmias. That knowledge is key to understanding the efficacy of the ablation being done.
Too much force can cause tissue injury and procedure complications, while too little force can lead to incomplete lesion formation, which essentially means that atrial fibrillation can recur down the road requiring a repeat ablative procedure.
The acquisition “closes the technological gap between St. Jude Medical and Johnson and Johnson whose Thermocool SmartTouch catheter had positive data at Hearth Rhythm Society (HRS) in May,” wrote Danielle Antalffy, an analyst from Leerink Swann in a research note on Aug. 19. “To us, contact force-sensing catheter technology is the wave of the future for AF (atrial fibrillation) ablation -- as evidenced by the impressive clinical data generated thus far.”
Endosense’s catheter already has CE Mark and the company intends to file for a pre-market approval of its force-sensing catheter by the end of the year.
A report released Friday by EP Vantage, the publishing arm of the life science business intelligence company Evaluate Group, echoed Antalffy.
“Should Endosense’s lead product, the force-sensing radiofrequency catheter TactiCath, gain premarket approval (PMA) as is expected, its new owner could pull away from its competitors Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific to become the company with the greatest number of innovative ablation catheters on the US market.”
In the “increasingly crowded” ablation catheter space, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson are tied in first place with five first-time pre-market approved products. St. Jude is a little ahead in terms of 510ks with two cleared products whereas Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson have one each.
Johnson and Johnson is also developing a force-sensing catheter – Thermocool SmartTouch – but it appears to be behind Endosense in the marketplace given that it doesn’t bear the CE Mark.
Other players in the ablation catheter space are Medtronic, AtriCure, C.R. Bard, Stereotaxis, nContact Surgical, Endo Health Solutions, Estech, Sijuan Jinjian Electronic Science and Technology and CardioFocus.
St. Jude estimates the global cardiac ablation catheter market to be worth $900 million.