Biodegradable Orthopedic Implants Have Arrived

SpecialChem | Don Rosato - Sep 1, 2007

Compiled by Don Rosato

Keyword Abstract: bioplastics, Inion Ltd. biodegradable, biodegradable materials, biodegradable processing, biodegradable clinical applications medical implants, metal replacement, orthopedic, fixation devices, pins, plates, screws, cranio-maxillofacial, skull, jaw, orthopedic trauma, fractures, sports medicine, dental implants, Stryker Corporation, bioactive, biodegradable device, bone healing, cruciate ligament, knee repairs, ankle fixation, shoulder, shoulder ligament, shoulder ligament injuries

Inion Ltd. is a rapidly growing company focused on the development of novel biodegradable medical implants. The firm was founded in Tampere, Finland by a team of international experts in biodegradable materials, processing and related clinical applications. The company operates from a state-of-the-art production and research facility in Tampere, Finland and has an Americas corporate office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Biodegradable medical implants compete directly with traditional metal devices, and the change to biodegradables is a growing trend in this market sector. Inion produces 11 different product ranges of biodegradable orthopedic fixation devices such as pins, plates, and screws that are marketed to four specific therapeutic areas: biodegradable cranio-maxillofacial (skull and jaw), orthopedic trauma (treatment of fractures), sports medicine devices, and dental implants. Branded Inion products are sold in more than 35 countries across four continents. The company markets globally through a network of partners like Stryker Corporation (North America, Western Europe), distributors in other parts of the world, and a specialized direct sales force. The company has grown more than 75% per year in the past two years and believes that it can maintain such a growth rate based on increasing demand for current Inion products and new products that the company has in the pipeline at this moment.

Orthopedic trauma, the largest of the four areas is a $1.7 billion market, with the plates, screws and pins portion valued at $680 million. The second biggest market in which Inion operates is the maxillofacial market, worth $430 million annually. The two other markets where the company has products are sports medicine, $250 million, and dental, about $700 million. These two sectors are of particular interest to Inion as biodegradables have already achieved significant penetration here. For example, 50% of all cruciate ligament (knee) repairs in the U.S. are undertaken using biodegradable implants. The market values in these two areas that are open to Inion are approximately $150 million for each.

Inion's goals are to become a leader in the growing biodegradable implant market and capture 10% of the orthopedic trauma market. The company has raised $70 million in capital through a successful IPO offering on London's Main Market. The funds will support sales growth of existing and new products and will also allow Inion to further develop their 'third generation' bioactive and biodegradable device technology based on accelerated bone healing through R&D/clinical trials, and expansion of manufacturing capabilities. In preclinical trials incorporating a small bioactive molecule into an existing Inion implant, bone healing rates were increased by up to 50%. In new areas the company recently launched a spinal product and also plans to launch a new sports medicine product for serious shoulder ligament injuries.

Biodegradable ankle fixation system
(Source: Inion Ltd.)
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