Medtronic PLC is buying a Tennessee company and its nerve stimulator for bladder-control issues, bringing competition to a Minnetonka firm that makes a similar device.
Medtronic, the Ireland-based medical device maker that has its operating headquarters in Fridley, announced Monday that it has acquired the privately held Advanced Uro-Solutions, Inc.
Terms were not disclosed.
The Elizabethton, Tenn., company makes the Nuro percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation system, which is approved for sale in the United States. Medtronic said it intends to launch the device in the United States within a year.
"This addition to our existing portfolio of products approved to treat incontinence will allow us to offer a less-invasive solution and increase global patient access to neurostimulation therapy," a Medtronic spokesman said in an e-mail.
The Nuro would compete on the U.S. market with the Urgent PC Neuromodulation System, which is made by Minnetonka's Uroplasty Inc.
Both devices work the same way. In fact, Advanced Uro-Solutions got approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration in late 2013 by proving that its stimulator is substantially equivalent to Uroplasty's.
The devices work by delivering mild current from a battery-operated electric-pulse generator through an acupuncture needle to an area just under the skin of a patient's ankle. The current stimulates the tibial nerve, which can influence muscles around the bladder and pelvic floor via the body's sacral nerve.
The stimulation treats symptoms of urinary urgency, urge incontinence and urinary frequency.
The devices are not implanted, but rather are used in 30-minute weekly sessions at a doctor's office.
Although doctors would typically prescribe drug therapies before turning to a neural stimulation device, studies have found that as many as 80 percent of patients with overactive bladders stop taking the drugs within 12 months.
The acquisition of the technology isn't expected to impact Medtronic's earnings guidance for 2015. Company officials noted that 37 million Americans and more than 500 million people worldwide are affected by overactive bladder and its related symptoms. Medtronic shares were up 46 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $79.25.
"Medtronic continues to invest in fully implantable bladder control and bowel control therapies, and the addition of the Nuro system to our existing portfolio of products will introduce more people suffering from bladder control issues to the benefits of neuromodulation," Linnea Burman, vice president and general manager of Medtronic's gastro-urology therapies, said in a statement.
The device has been good for Uroplasty in recent months. In its most recent quarter, Uroplasty's global revenue for its Urgent PC system grew 15 percent to $4.4 million, which the company said was a new quarterly record, and the device is on track for 15 percent growth in the ongoing quarter. Uroplasty shares closed at $1.27, off 6 cents, or 4.5 percent.