2016 in Review

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s worth reflecting on some of the key events in the neurotechnology industry during the year. In most respects, 2016 continued the string of positive financial and funding developments from the previous two years.

Probably the biggest financial story of the year was Abbott’s purchase of St. Jude Medical for $25 billion. When that deal becomes final next year, the competitive landscape of the neuromodulation industry will have a different look, with Medtronic, Abbott, and Boston Scientific jostling for market leadership in SCS and DBS. Meanwhile, Nevro, Nuvectra, Stimwave, Mainstay, and others will each attempt to exploit the unique aspects of their SCS offerings to take market share from the big three players.

Another major financial event was GSK’s joint venture with Verily Life Sciences to create Galvani Bioelectronics, which promises to be a major powerhouse in the emerging market for bioelectronic medicine. Other pharmaceutical firms, as well as public and private funding sources, are looking with great optimism at opportunities in this segment.

The field of neuroprosthetics saw numerous advances in 2016, including progress on multiple fronts in developing upper-extremity devices with sensory capabilities. The commercial launch of the Luke arm by Mobius Bionics represented the culmination of DARPA’s decade-long investment in neuroprosthetics. During the past year, there has also been a considerable amount of progress—and a little controversy—in the area of functional recovery from paralysis using epidural stimulation of the spinal cord. Two commercial startups, Reggie Edgerton’s NeuroRecovery Technologies, and Gregoire Courtine’s G-Therapeutics, are poised to benefit financially should this therapeutic approach prove successful.

Surface stimulation for treatment of pain made a considerable comeback in 2016. A year after DJO divested its Empi unit as a result of declining revenues and a bleak reimbursement outlook, several other vendors have taken the baton. Most notably, Bayer’s Aleve Direct Therapy and NeuroMetrix’ Quell wearable devices are gaining market recognition as a result of aggressive consumer marketing. The growing awareness of the dangers of opioid use in treating chronic pain has created a notable window of opportunity for surface stimulation vendors.

Finally, the regulatory environment for neurotech devices continued to improve in 2016, and the industry saw a bevy of new FDA and CE Mark approvals during the year.

Taken as a whole, the events of the last year leave us quite optimistic about the future of the neurotech industry.

James Cavuoto

Editor and Publisher

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