After growing rapidly through 2020, Cleveland-based medical device company SPR Therapeutics Inc. plans to further expand its momentum.
SPR Therapeutics has developed a neurostimulation platform for pain therapy, the SPRINT system for peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS). The company recently reached a 5,000th implant milestone, ahead of schedule, as the demand for alternative options for managing pain – without opioids or surgery – continues to grow.
“We’re ahead of schedule,” said Maria Bennett, founder, president and CEO of SPR. “We have seen accelerated momentum and growth and only significant demand from our customers so this is really ahead of the course we foresaw in early 2020 despite the pandemic.”
The first generation of SPR technology received FDA approval in 2016 and the current generation in late 2018. The company implanted 1,000 devices in 2019 and doubled that pace last year with 2,000 implants to reach this milestone.
In early 2020, the company had forecast growth, but not quite as high as it ultimately saw. When the pandemic broke out, the restriction on electoral procedures forced the SPR to postpone. Bennett said the company spent that time internally on professional development as well as external awareness raising about SPRINT technology while avoiding overwhelming its clinic customers dealing with COVID-19.
“Fortunately, after overcoming these restrictions, we had our highest sales month ever in May 2020,” she said. “We came out even stronger than we went in, I think. And during the recovery period we continued to grow pretty strongly at the end of 2020.”
At the end of last year, the SPR expanded its workforce by around 20 people, to around 90 people. Sales in 2020 increased by 125% compared to the previous year. And in the first quarter of this year, SPR saw 180% growth compared to the first quarter of 2020.
SPR is well on its way to generating $ 25 million to $ 30 million in revenue this year, Bennett said.
It also expanded to four new areas, making a total of 16, a number she said the company could double within the next year.
SPR’s business strategy so far has been to focus on key areas and go deep into those areas, which has been “somewhat self-limiting up to this point,” she said.
“We now imagine, given our success, that we’re just scratching the surface,” she said. “We believe that with additional opportunities that we are evaluating, we could stop being so self-limiting and get really big here and double our growth through potential additional capital or other growth strategies to add additional territories and expand.” our overall commercial footprint. “
SPRINT works by placing wires through the skin near the target nerve in the area of pain, Bennett said. It is implanted for only 60 days, during which a patient can use a wireless controller to adjust the stimulation up or down within a certain range set and programmed by a doctor upon receipt of the device.
“We activate the nerve that has been damaged by either trauma or disease that ultimately causes the pain and gives the brain pain signals or negative signals,” she said.
The wires are attached to an external stimulator and removed after 60 days, during which the SPRINT system has shown significant pain relief as well as sustained relief after the device is removed, Bennett said.
Dr. Henry Vucetic – an interventional pain doctor currently affiliated with the Lake Health System that was recently acquired by university hospitals – saw the long-term benefits of the technology in his father, who suffered from chronic shoulder pain and was not a good candidate for a shoulder replacement. After using the treatment, Vucetics’ father had complete pain relief with the device that lasted two and a half years.
Since then, the technology has opened up a whole new avenue for treating patients with mechanical pain who don’t have many great interventional procedures or devices to offer treatment, Vucetic said.
While other neurostimulation technologies are approved for chronic or acute pain, or specifically for back or extremity pain, SPRINT has a general indication clearance that ticks all boxes for joint pain, back and / or extremity pain, acute and chronic pain.
Vucetic sees pain management as climbing the ladder of therapy, starting with more conservative pain management measures before moving to more invasive steps like surgery. It also helps potentially minimize the need to prescribe opioids, and while there are currently fully implantable devices on the market, SPRINT’s limited 60-day implant time is an attractive alternative, he said.
“Now we have better therapy to jump even earlier,” said Vucetic.
SPR challenges physicians to rethink their pain strategy and introduce neuromodulation – like SPRINT’s non-surgical, non-destructive, non-opioid technology – early on in the continuum of pain management before opioids or surgery and as an alternative to all-destructive therapies, Bennett said.
“The opioid crisis, while taking a back seat to COVID last year, is more widespread than ever,” said Bennett. “I believe that COVID unfortunately contributed to this because many pain patients were referred to virtual visits and what not, and really the only thing that could be done for many of these patients was prescriptions for opioids.”