Boston Scientific to Buy Vessix for Hypertension Technology

Xconomy Boston — 

Boston Scientific  (NYSE: BSX) is continuing its acquisition binge with the announcement this morning that it has agreed to buy Vessix Vascular, a privately held company in Laguna Hills, CA, for as much as $425 million. Vessix makes a device that uses radio frequencies to treat drug-resistant hypertension, a method called renal denervation.

The agreement calls for an upfront payment of $125 million and additional milestone payments up to a maximum of $300 million between 2013 and 2017. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of November. Natick, MA-based Boston Scientific, best known for its drug-coated stents, set off on a buying spree five years ago to diversify its product portfolio, and has purchased some 15 companies since; Vessix marks the fourth acquisition so far this year. Just a month ago the firm agreed to acquire privately held Rhythmia Medical, in Burlington, MA, for as much as $265 million in order to get Rhythmia’s electrophysiology technology for treating irregular heartbeats.

Boston Scientific said in a press release that the Vessix acquisition is meant to add another technology to its portfolio of hypertension treatments and accelerate its entry into the renal denervation market, which “we expect to be a multi-billion dollar market by 2020.” Vessix’s V2 Renal Denervation System was approved in Europe in May, and in Australia in September, and will be sold in both regions next year. However, it is still being tested in the U.S. The system uses a balloon fitted to a catheter to deliver radio-frequency waves that sear hyperactive nerves in the kidneys, one of the causes of hypertension.

Vessix, originally called Minnow Medical, was founded in San Diego 2003 by medical device entrepreneur Tom Steinke. He told Xconomy’s Bruce Bigelow in 2009 that he started the company “out of an abiding conviction of the limitations of the medical stent”—ironically, Boston Scientific’s leading product. Steinke left the company a few years later and in August 2011 Minnow changed its name to Vessix Vascular after raising $23 million in a financing round led by Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners. Other key investors in the company include NeoMed Management, OrbiMed Advisors, and Christopher Weil.