Calypso Gets Florida Medicare Unit to Pay for “GPS for the Body” for Prostate Cancer

3/27/09Follow @xconomy

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to develop the technology since its founding in 1999, and Calypso has set a price where you might expect—high. It’s $1,200 per implantable transponder, and $400,000 to $500,000 for the base station. The business opportunity for this kind of technology is clearly high in a place like Florida, where more than 2.9 million people are age 65 or older—about one out of every six people in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s the age when odds of prostate cancer greatly increase, so this has to be one of Calypso’s prime markets. (The Medicare regional unit affected also includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)

“Calypso Medical is very pleased with these latest reimbursement decisions, which affirm that national payers understand the clinical value of our technology’s critical role in optimizing radiation therapy for cancer patients,” said Peter Buck, Calypso’s vice president and general counsel, in a statement. “As the market penetration of the Calypso System continues to increase—our customer base more than doubled in 2008—reimbursement decisions are vital to expanding our footprint so that more patients can be treated with our technology.”

As I reported last week at the Invest Northwest conference in Seattle, Calypso has sold more than 70 of its systems in the U.S., more than 2,800 patients have been treated, and the radiation-locating procedure has been performed more than 112,000 times. The company has successfully convinced some big U.S. hospitals, like the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Michigan, to use the technology, even though I get the sense it hasn’t caught on the way the company had hoped. It has cut its payroll down from about 200 employees last fall to 124 this month.

Back in December, CEO Eric Meier explained to me that the company needed to make cuts because it isn’t profitable, and to conserve its cash. “We wanted to take prudent action to make sure the company is well-positioned for current and long-term success,” Meier said then. No doubt, more announcements like this one from Medicare are a key part of that plan.

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