Written By: Josh Sandberg
It was announced today that CareFusion, the newest newcomer to balloon kyphoplasty has gone on the offensive by filing an antitrust claim against Medtronic. The complaint, only slightly shorter than the Health Care Reform Bill, is 619 pages full of allegations. Here is a quick breakdown:
CareFusion claims that they developed “vertebroplasty” and that Kyphon stole all of their hard work by adding a balloon to create a void and changing the name of the procedure to Kyphoplasty. Then Kyphon had the nerve to obtain “invalid patents” and go to market as though they developed the procedure first.
They also are claiming that Medtronic schemed to kill competition by acquiring other “invalid patents” and threaten to enforce the patents to drive competitors out of the market.
Really CareFusion? Really? Aside from the “bone paste” as they call it the only thing that vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty have in common is that they both repair vertebral compression fractures. Kyphon significantly lowered extravasation (and some height restoration which is why it is now referred to as Vertebral Augmentation) by adding the balloon and creating the void. Plus, all Kyphon/Medtronic has done to “drive competitors out of the market” is have the patent on Conventional Balloon Kyphoplasty. There are other players in this market that have a kyphoplasty device that is of no infringement on the Kyphon/Medtronic patents (see DFine and Osseon).
While it has long been rumored that Medtronic has their lawyers ready to viciously attack the first competitor that creates a void with a balloon, it appears that CareFusion thought that the best way to enter the market was to pull out the Giants nose hair. At first pass, these allegations seem as nothing more than a fiction novel.
My advice to those of us in the spine industry, get your popcorn out. This should make for some interesting theater!