Pathway Medical Tool Shows Early Signs of Emerging as “Real Winner”

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using the Jetstream on patients with more severe disease, usually 10 centimeters or more, and sometimes on horrific blockages that can run most of the length of a thigh, or as much as 57 centimeters long, Clement says.

This is one way that Pathway hopes its tool will stand out versus the competition, Clement says. Plymouth, MN-based ev3 (NASDAQ: EVVV) markets tools known as the SilverHawk and the RockHawk, which work by slicing through and scraping out blockages in the legs. Colorado Springs, CO-based Spectranetics uses a laser-based system, while St. Paul, MN-based Cardiovascular Systems Inc. has a high-speed diamond-tipped cutting tool.

Pathway’s device is the only one that offers the vacuuming feature, which is important because it’s faster and easier than other processes that require doctors to manually remove the fatty buildups, Clement says. The Jetstream is also supposed to be more versatile, because it can cut through all forms of blockages, unlike the others, which tend to be good at one kind of blockage, but not all.

Clement wouldn’t reveal his company’s sales goals for 2009, but he said expectations “are more than modest.” Back in July, when the device won approval, Pathway director David Auth said it could “easily top $200 million” a year. Of course, that was before the economy went seriously downhill and hospitals started tightening their budgets for 2009.

Still, Pathway was able to attract Paul Buckman, a veteran of medical device commercial strategy at Boston Scientific and ev3, to be its new CEO back in October. Buckman, in a speech to investors last month in San Francisco, told an anecdote about how one doctor used the Pathway device on a 91-year-old woman. This fragile patient had her leg arteries cleared out in less than an hour, and the doctor said that job previously would have taken seven different devices, 14 onerous insertions of catheters, and $20,000 in equipment.

“We have physicians out there who are trying this on patients with incredibly complex disease,” Clement says. “Our value proposition to them is that we have a single product for a wide variety of states of diseases.”

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