Medical devices generally require $31 million and up to five years to bring to market, according to studies conducted by the Medical Device Manufacturers Association and the National Venture Capital Association. But a New York-based medical device maker, PAVmed—using innovative technologies and a unique business model—has found a way to do this for $3.5 million in only 18 months.
PAVmed’s pipeline of products were created by medical professionals to address unmet clinical needs using methods that are less invasive and at lower costs. The company was founded by Dr. Lishan Aklog, Dr. Brian Guzman and medical device veteran Michael Glennon. The three previously founded Pavilion Holdings in 2008 with the goal of building a portfolio of medical device companies. One of the early companies came up with a novel way of removing blood clots and its development illustrates how their innovation model works. Instead of a surgeon opening someone’s chest, putting them on a heart-lung machine, cutting their artery open and plucking it out, Aklog—a former associate professor of surgery and chief of cardiovascular surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Heart and Lung institute in Phoenix—employed an AngioVac, a small miniaturized blood pump that sucks the blood, capturing the clot with a filter. It was the first time such a device was used to trap a clot, and then immediately pump the blood back into the patient. There are other devices that try to break up clots, but this was the first time that a large clot the size of a thumb could be vacuumed out in one piece.
“We knew we made the big time when it was featured on Grey’s Anatomy,” Aklog remembers. The TV show’s fictional character Meredith Grey is judged to have a sizeable blood clot and is told by another doctor that they are recommending an AngioVac, to which she responds, “I’ve never heard of that.”
Their innovation model is deceptively simple. Instead of hiring an engineer and saying, “Okay, can you go tinker with this for a few months and get back to us when you have a prototype,” they decided to go right to a contract manufacturer, bring in 15 engineers and others who had expertise in a variety of areas, and brainstorm what was needed, how to make it and how to sterilize it. “We needed a tube that’s of a certain caliber that has a deployable funnel at the end that is flexible enough to be maneuvered,” recalls Aklog. By the end of the day, the group had a sketch written on a cocktail napkin that was fairly close to the final product.