Monday, April 20, 2009

Cardiac imaging and OCT's legal mess

"Word is getting out” about imaging tools that enable more precise guidance during heart surgery, said Volcano Corp. VP Joe Burnett, referring to the increased number of imaging-related presentations at the recent American College of Cardiology (ACC) Annual Meeting 2009.) Speaking at the conference, former ACC President Pamela Douglas, M.D. said that imaging is growing faster than all other procedures, services and diagnostic tests.

Many of the talks focused on intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and optical coherence tomography (OCT), either pitting the approaches against each other or demonstrating their complementary use. Volcano has a foot in each camp, bolstered during the past year by acquisitions of IVUS developer Novelis and OCT developer Axsun. The latter launched a legal battle because last summer, Axsun entered into a multi-year exclusive agreement with another supplier of cardiac OCT systems, LightLab Imaging (Westford, MA). Under the agreement, Axsun would supply advanced tunable lasers for LightLab’s swept-source OCT systems.

We’re still waiting for the final answer to the question, “What happens when the company you acquire has supply agreements with your competitors?” but for now, a Superior Court injunction, in response to a complaint by LightLab, is prohibiting Volcano from using Axsun tunable lasers in its OCT products.