Kyphoplasty market war “balloons” as competition hots up


The kyphoplasty market is hotting up in terms of competition–while Medtronic with its acquisition of Kyphon in late 2007, holds the lion’s share, Carefusion is now testing the waters in this purportedly lucrative arena.

When CareFusion launched the AVAmax vertebral balloon, a minimally invasive device for use during kyphoplasty, in March this year, the company clearly had its eye on the $500–600 million global health care segment that kyphoplasty represents.


The company, a recent medical-devices spinoff from Cardinal Health, is taking on the Medtronic might, and large distribution force, to compete in the segment. Medtronic’s Kyphon kyphoplasty balloon spine stabilisation system currently leads the market.


Nasdaq has reported that Carefusion, during its 9 February second-quarter 2010 earnings call, disseminated information about the April launch of a new device in its AVAmax line. Also, in late March this year, CareFusion filed a lawsuit accusing Medtronic of seeking a monopoly on the minimally invasive vertebral compression fracture market.


In the lawsuit, CareFusion accused Medtronic of plotting to keep competitors out of the market by the “acquisition of assets from third parties in an illegal attempt to monopolise, monopolisation, and obtaining and acquiring knowingly invalid and unenforceable patents,” according to court documents, reported in the publication, Mass Device.


Further, Mass Device also quoted from the court documents that: “[Medtronic has] eliminated competition and obtained approximately 85% or more market share in the minimally invasive vertebral compression fracture treatment product market and approximately 97% or more market share in the alternative kyphoplasty product market.”


Analysts say that CareFusion did not make too much of the threat of intellectual property battles in the recent earnings call, saying Medtronic’s patents were either expired or unrelated to CareFusion’s device. Analysts have also said that CareFusion’s aggressive strategy could result in new challenges for Medtronic’s Spine business.


Orthospine News in a recent article from the Dow Jones Newswires, has quoted Medtronic as stating that it is the: “only company with a commercially available product in the USA for this procedure (kyphoplasty) and the only company with level-one evidence to support the technology.”


In a recent press release, Carefusion said it was the first company to offer devices for both vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty procedures.