Value-priced implants, generic versions of expensive brand-name implants, can save ambulatory surgery centers a great deal of money because they can be produced by companies that don't have to pay for R&D, advertising or sales reps, said Richard A. Kube II, MD, CEO of Prairie Spine & Pain Institute in Peoria, Ill. He spoke at the 9th Annual Orthopedic, Spine and Pain-Management Driven ASC Conference in Chicago.
Value-priced implants, also known as commodity implants, are made possible when a manufacturer's exclusive rights expire and the implant enters the public domain. The products range from interbody cages to pedical screws.
Value-priced manufacturers do not use sales reps, who account for about 30 percent of the price of a brand-name product. Dr. Kube said this can be scary for surgery staff, who are used to having the rep in the OR, but he asserted ORs can function just fine without a rep. Also, without a rep, the ASC must assign someone to take over the rep's role of stocking the devices.
However, Dr. Kube added there will always be a need for premium implants. "For difficult cases I still want to use a product with a lot of bells and whistles," he says.
Blair Rhode, MD, a sports medicine physician in Orland Park, Ill., founded his own value-priced implant company, Rhode Sports Medicine. The products can be ordered online and shipped to the ASC. With implant prices soaring – hip implant prices rose 234 percent from 1991-2009 – the industry needs a "disruptive innovation" that actually brings down the price, which occurred for products like plasma TV screens.
For value-priced implants to work, "you've got to simplify the product and simplify the service," Dr. Rhode said. However, a small company cannot replicate the full line of products of premium device-makers.
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