Ghosts of Medtech: What Ever Happened to These 7 Medical Devices?

  • Sometimes even seemingly good ideas just don't pan out. Read on to see seven medtech products that once held a lot of promise but just didn't make it in the long run. 

  • In 2017, Abbott decided to take its first-generation Absorb Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold off the market due to weak sales. The device had only been on the U.S. market for a little more than a year. Absorb received a CE mark in January 2011, making Abbott the first company to bring a drug-eluting bioresorbable vascular scaffold to market. However, the device never enjoyed widespread adoption and clinical data on was mixed.

  • Direct Flow remains a cautionary tale for smaller companies delving into transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). In November of 2016, the Santa Rosa, CA- based firm closed its doors after failing to secure funding. More than 200 employees lost their jobs as a result of the company shutting down. Direct Flow had a CE-marked TAVR device.

  • Bayer announced in July that it will stop selling its Essure birth control system in the United States at the end of the year, citing a decline in U.S. sales of the device. The announcement came just days before The Bleeding Edge premiered on Netflix, featuring several women who have fought to get the device removed from the market after suffering adverse effects in connection to the permanent birth control implant. Some of these women are pictured in the above image, provided to MD+DI courtesy of Netflix.

    Although the controversial product is the subject of nearly 30,000 adverse event reports to FDA and thousands of patient lawsuits, Bayer insisted that its decision to discontinue sales of the product is for business reasons only, "not for any safety or efficacy concerns about Essure."

    Image courtesy of Netflix
  • Kips Bay Medical shareholders voted in September 2015 to dissolve the company after a disappointing clinical trial of its eSvS mesh sleeve. The device was intended to improve chronic patency of saphenous vein grafts that are used in coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

    Serial entrepreneur Manny Villafaña was Kips Bay's chairman and CEO before it closed. Speaking at an industry conference in Minnesota soon after the closure was announced, Villafaña recalled how the New York Yankees' Mickey Mantle struck out a lot, but he always came back the next day and kept on swinging.

    "I'm not afraid to swing the bat," Villafaña said. 

  • Redwood, CA-based Naya Health was once considered a digital health company to keep an eye on. Naya developed a $1,000 "smart" breast pump with a connected app to allow lactating mothers to record pumping sessions, track milk supply, and receive personalized advice. 

    Just last week, however, CNBC reported that the startup has gone dark and is not responding to customer inquiries. Women who purchased the device told CNBC that the breast pump doesn't work and they never got a refund.

    Naya Health Inc.
  • Northstar Neuroscience made the tough decision to close its doors in 2009, about a year after clinical trial results showed that Northstar's device failed to help stroke victims regain the use of their arms and hands. The company's Renova cortical stimulation system was designed to deliver targeted electrical stimulation to the outer surface of the brain, the cerebral cortex.

  • At one time, Palo Alto, CA-based Theranos was valued at $9 billion, but in September the company scandal-ridden blood testing firm decided to close up shop. The company is reportedly distributing its remaining $5 million in cash to creditors, while investors will be left in the dark.

    Former CEO Elizabeth Holmes was once poised to change medtech forever. At 19, Holmes left Stanford University to start a lab-testing company with the goal of providing consumers access to cheap, fast, and high-quality diagnostic tests that used just a drop of blood from a fingerstick.

    Holmes wooed physicians, patients, and investors alike with the promise of Theranos’ technology and in 2015 she made MD+DI's list of Medtech Billionaires.

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