Pathway Medical Raises $40M for Device to Clear Out Blocked Leg Arteries

3/26/09Follow @xconomy

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with the ability to cut through all different kinds of blockages in the legs at once—from rock-hard calcium deposits, to squishier type of blood clot called a thrombus—without raising the risk of having the drill perforate the leg artery and cause dangerous bleeding. The company’s device is also the only one with a vacuum feature, which sucks up tiny particles that can get dislodged in the bloodstream, and potentially cause trouble, like a stroke.

The investors were drawn to invest so much in Pathway because a lot of the risk has been removed now that Jetstream is on the market, and seeing strong early demand. Founder and chairman Tom Clement told me in early February that the Pathway machine, at a cost of $4,000 per patient, had already been purchased by 100 physicians, and used on 500 patients. Sales have been growing every month, he said in that Xconomy exclusive.

“The investors see that we’re now a commercial business,” Buckman says. “We’re generating revenue, we’re seeing uptake in the marketplace, they like our pipeline, and they like the opportunity of a large market. When you look at how venture firms think, a lot of them have been in bunker mode lately, and they are looking for opportunities like ours where it’s late-stage, generating revenue, and has a reasonable opportunity to be acquired. They’re looking for less risk, and this is not a bad place to park some of their money.”

In connection with the financing, Avi Molcho of Forbion Fund will join Pathway’s board, Buckman says. The company currently has a staff of about 200, with a sales and marketing group of about 40, which it expects will grow modestly, Buckman says.

Buckman, a veteran medical device marketer with experience at Natick, MA-based Boston Scientific, took over the top job at Pathway from Clement in October as the company made the transition from the engineering to commercial phase. He clearly knows how to tell a compelling story, as we related from the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. At that meeting, he told an anecdote about how doctors are using the Jetstream technology in the field. He said one doctor used it to clear out blocked leg arteries in a 91-year-old woman in less than an hour. Before this device came along, the physician was reluctant to operate at all on such a patient, given how fragile she was, and how it would have taken seven different tools, 14 onerous insertions of catheters, and about $20,000 of equipment to do the same thing with another method.

Buckman has the luxury of running a private company, so he didn’t have to share his company’s actual sales, or its sales forecasts with me. But director David Auth told me back in July that the Pathway device “could easily top $150 million in annual sales” or even $200 million if the company plays its cards right. If Pathway approaches those numbers anytime soon, it’s pretty safe to say some of the big medical device companies will want to come knocking to buy this technology, and give this new group of VCs the kind of payday they are increasingly anxious to see.

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