Boston Scientific to buy hypertension technology

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 8, 2012 - 11:13 PM

Vessix Vascular's treatment involves burning kidney nerves that can trigger the condition.

Boston Scientific Corp. said Thursday that it will pay as much as $425 million for a California company that has developed a novel way to treat high blood pressure.

The acquisition of Laguna Hills-based Vessix Vascular Inc. gives Boston Scientific, which has significant operations in the Twin Cities, access to the fast-growing market for renal denervation -- a minimally invasive procedure that involves burning nerves on the kidney that can cause high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects some 1.2 billion people worldwide -- a silent killer that increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

Boston Scientific CEO Michael Mahoney said in a statement that "renal denervation represents a potential breakthrough therapy for the treatment of uncontrolled hypertension and is an important part of the Boston Scientific growth strategy." The deal, he noted, accelerates the company's entry "into what we expect to be a multibillion-dollar market by 2020."

But others have jumped into the space, as well, notably Fridley-based med-tech giant Medtronic Inc., which leads the industry in developing renal denervation devices. In addition, Little Canada-based St. Jude Medical Inc., and Covidien, based in Ireland, are also competing in the market.

The deal, expected to close later this month, calls for Boston Scientific to make an upfront payment of $125 million, plus $300 million as additional clinical and sales-based milestones are reached. This is the latest acquisition for Boston Scientific, which has bought 15 companies in the past five years. The Natick, Mass.-based company is looking to expand into new areas as sales of its core products, heart rhythm devices and stents to open clogged arteries, have fallen 13 percent since their peak of $5.4 billion in 2009.

"Vessix Vascular has developed a very simple and easy-to- use renal denervation system" that is a real breakthrough for treating uncontrolled hypertension, Jeff Mirviss, president of peripheral intervention at Boston Scientific, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Not yet approved in U.S.

Vessix's V2 Tenal Denervation Systems is already approved for use in Europe and Australia, but not yet in the United States. Boston Scientific will begin a study needed to obtain U.S. regulatory approval by the end of 2013 or early 2014, Mirviss said.

The technology will replace Boston Scientific's in-house efforts to develop a similar device. The company has major operations in Maple Grove, Arden Hills and Plymouth.

The Vessix system is a "balloon on a wire," essentially taking the technology interventional cardiologists use every day to open clogged heart arteries and adapting it to hit nerves in kidney arteries that can spur high blood pressure. The balloon is fitted with radio frequency ablation technology that sears the overactive nerves in eight locations in 30 seconds, Mirviss said.

"It is significantly faster than most of the competitive devices on the market," he said. "It will make the procedure more efficient and easier for everyone involved."

The device allows doctors to treat more patients, exposing patients to less pain and a lower amount of contrast dye and radiation from imaging equipment, he said.

Last quarter, Boston Scientific agreed to buy BridgePoint Medical to get access to its product to treat totally blocked arteries and bought Rhythmia Medical, which makes equipment to guide doctors during heart procedures. It purchased Cameron Health in June, gaining the first defibrillator that is implanted under the skin rather than directly into the heart.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report. Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

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