Originally Published MDDI August 2005
|SurModics's CEO Bruce Barclay has changed
relationship with new
The relationship between device companies and suppliers is changing, especially when it comes to complex areas like combination products. The typical supplier-customer relationship is being replaced by a more collaborative approach, where vendor companies may be helping out at the earliest stages of product design.
One of the companies at the forefront of this trend is SurModics Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN). Its best-known development project involved the Cypher drug-eluting stent for Johnson & Johnson's Cordis Corp. (Miami). It was asked to design a coating when product development was beginning.
Moves that SurModics has made since then have been in keeping with that approach. In January it acquired a drug-delivery company, InnoRx, to develop ophthalmology products. In May, it invested in and licensed coating technologies to ThermopeutiX Inc. (San Diego), a maker of devices to treat vascular and neurovascular diseases. In July, Bruce Barclay, who had worked for device companies such as Guidant Corp. (Indianapolis) and Vascular Architects Inc. (San Jose, CA), took over as CEO of SurModics.
“The device-vendor relationship is changing, and it has had a positive impact,” says Barclay, who joined SurModics in 2003 as president and chief operating officer. “More and more, device manufacturers are calling companies like us to say, ‘Here's a need that's not well met in the marketplace today; how do we work toward developing a product to sell and to help solve problems in that clinical area?'”
The logical extension of this development intertwining may be financial intertwining, as happened in the SurModics-InnoRx deal. “For the first time, we own a product from the beginning of clinical evaluation,” he says. “We were used to being an enabler of the product. Now we are the product itself.”
Where else might these sorts of relationships take hold? Nanotechnology, where chemical, electrical, material, and pharmaceutical sciences can all converge, is a good bet. Indeed, in May, SurModics announced a deal with Donaldson Company, Inc. (Norcross, GA) to develop nanofiber cell culture products. The venture would combine Donaldson's nanofiber technology with SurModics's surface modification technology.
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