Medical Device Daily Washington Editor

"Buy my stock."

Most company CEOs or CFOs would not come right out and speak those words in their presentations during an investor conference, but the underlying message is there: demonstrating good investment value.

During this year's Lehman Brothers Global Healthcare Conference being held at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, about 200 healthcare companies from all sectors of healthcare are attempting to do just that.

Two of the device companies presenting Wednesday morning on the first day of the three-day conference included Wilson Greatbatch (Clarence, New York) and Wright Medical Group (Arlington, Tennessee).

Ed Voboril, president and CEO of Wilson Greatbatch, said his company continues to offer a "pipeline of opportunities" throughout the medical technology market.

The company manufactures components for implantable medical devices. According to Voboril, every implantable medical device in the cardiac rhythm management (CRM) segment has at least one component manufactured by Wilson Greatbatch.

With a market size estimated at $11 billion in 2006, Voboril said the CRM sector is still under-penetrated and represents an area of continued growth for the company.

Though the company's core business is batteries for implantable devices, it is focusing on expanding into other product areas, including power sources using nanotechnology and expansion into the neurostimulation and drug-delivery markets.

Wilson Greatbatch plans to ship out its first nanotechnology battery by the end of the year, with additional product releases in 2006. Voboril said the company would be releasing "significant technology" in this area during the next two years.

He also pointed to the development and release of new MRI-friendly components. Older-generation power sources were incompatible with some imaging technologies, making diagnosis for certain patient populations more difficult. New products in this sector will be released next year, Voboril said.

In 2004, the company experienced a sales slump attributed to its major customers having made big purchases in 2003 and then using that inventory throughout 2004, which hurt Wilson Greatbatch's sales and stock price.

At present, about 70% of the company's revenues come from three firms – Medtronic (Minneapolis), St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) and Guidant (Indianapolis). Voboril said the company is working on new market areas to expand its client base, thus reducing the risk of dependence on a few large customers.

Wilson Greatbatch recently was chosen by Interventional Rhythm Management (IRM; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) as a primary component developer for a non-traditional, high-rate CRM therapy device. IRM develops defibrillators and pacemakers to be implanted within the vascular system without major surgery.

F. Barry Bays, executive chairman of Wright Medical, a manufacturer of orthopedic medical devices, said his company would be focused on a "rich and strong" offering of new products in the coming year, with a focus on "high-margin, high-growth segments in the market."

Bays said the company would be growing its biologic division, which he said is a $750 million market. The biologics line will focus on bone grafting solutions and membrane technology for tissue repair, including the company's GraftJacket ulcer repair treatment for chronic wounds often associated with diabetes. GraftJacket recently received reimbursement status for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Baltimore).

Minimally invasive, as with much of the device sector, is the name of the game at Wright as well. The company will be expanding its Charlotte line of foot and ankle implants, in addition to its Micronail product for wrist repair without he use of a cast.

Bays said Micronail, which was approved by the FDA last year, allows the patient almost full mobility in just a few weeks, compared to more than six weeks of immobility in a cast.