DUSSELDORF, Germany — At the world's largest exhibition for business-to-business medical technology, the exhibition by InterCure (Lod, Israel) was a notable exception, having generated $6 million exclusively in direct-to-consumer sales of a medical device last year.

InterCure's lead product, RESPeRATE, is a device for guided breathing aimed at the sizable global market for hypertension patients.

The Medica showing was part of a company strategy to come off the Internet and win shelf space at high-volume retail outlets, specifically pharmacies.

"We have enjoyed a great performance with direct sales but compared to the potential, $6 million is modest," President/CEO Erez Gavish told Medical Device Daily.

"There are 5 million blood pressure monitors sold annually through retail just in the U.S.," he said. "We believe that if customers buy these monitors, then they are engaged and will want to do something about their condition."

In July, InterCure raised $16 million in a public offering on the Tel Aviv stock exchange to finance its ambitions for winning distribution in pharmacies.

The company launched its first retail distribution in September with Mashco (London) to place the product in 100 locations alongside diagnostic blood pressure testing. Last month, InterCure reported an agreement for retail distribution in Australia through an agreement with High Tech Health (Maroochydore, Australia) that will place the units into pharmacies nationwide through three wholesalers.

RESPeRATE was cleared by FDA in 2000 as an over-the-counter hypertension treatment device and InterCure has since won regulatory clearance in 12 other markets including the Europe and China.

Ten clinical studies promoted by the company conclude self-treatment for device-guided breathing at home over two months was associated with a significant reduction in office systolic blood pressure.

Gavish said, "Two-thirds of our prospective customers are telling us they would prefer to buy RESPeRATE through their local pharmacy; in other words, at the same place where they buy their hypertension medications."

— John Brosky, European Editor