Can Medical Device Makers Share?

At the Shape Memory and Superlastic Technologies (SMST) conference May 16–20, an unusual presentation was given by Craig Bonsignore (NDC). He advocated an open-source calculator to design stents (used in cardiovascular applications).

This is pretty controversial because stent companies rely on their patents for unique shapes in a stent (truthfully, however, noted Bonsignore, the differences in shapes are functionally insignificant). Providing open geometry for stent design could foster better data collection on use, especially in university settings where many labs spend time designing a new stent shape simply to avoid patent infringement—costing unnecessary resources. Bonsignore has plans to approach FDA on feasibility of his ideas and is writing a book.

In the medical sector, having a plan to introduce “communism” (Bonsignore’s word) to a blockbuster technology is bold, to say the least. The benefits could be significant, but the challenge would be to convince notoriously secretive medical device companies to contribute.