Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused by
abnormal regurgitation of fluids from the stomach into the
esophagus. Patients who do not respond to treatment with drugs often
undergo laparoscopic surgery.
Medigus' system enables treatment in an outpatient setting with no
incisions. Its endoscope — a surgical tool inserted through the
mouth — staples the stomach to the wall of the esophagus to close a
gap that allows acid to rise up.
A tiny video camera on the tip enables physicians to see what they
are doing. Ultrasound guides alignment once the tip reaches tissue
blocking the view.
"We are at the early stage of commercialization. In the medical
device world you need to get ... innovators to try the product,"
Chris Rowland, an American who took over as chief executive of
Medigus in October, told Reuters on Tuesday.
By the end of 2014 Medigus expects to have 10 centers in the United
States and 10 in Europe performing procedures with its device, which
has received U.S. and European regulatory approval. Medigus will
focus on commercial expansion in 2016-2017 and expects to be
profitable by 2017.
Twenty one million Americans have chronic or severe GERD, Rowland
said, noting these patients often have to sleep sitting up. The cost
of surgery ranges from $18,000 to $25,000 compared with
$10,000-$12,000 for the Medigus procedure.
The potential U.S. market for its endoscope is 16-17 million
patients who have given up on drug therapy but not yet decided on
surgery. The United States is about 25 percent of the global market.
"By the end of the year it (revenue) will be in the millions of
dollar," Rowland said.
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Medigus had 1.6 million shekels ($454,000) in revenue in the
first nine months of 2013 mainly from its video cameras, some of
which are less than 1 mm in size. Rowland said there are many
medical and industrial applications for the cameras, including at
nuclear reactors and on NASA's space station.
Competitors include the Stretta system made by Mederi Therapeutics
that uses radiofrequency energy to remodel muscles in the digestive
California-based Rowland was brought to Medigus by the OrbiMed
healthcare fund, which invested $8 million last year and owns 24
percent. Another 15 percent is held by Johnson & Johnson and
Israel's Dexcel Pharma.
Rowland plans to keep development in Israel and move commercial
staff to offices in the United States and Austria.
($1 = 3.525 shekels)
(Reporting by Tova Cohen; editing by
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