Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Second Sight Medical Products (NASDAQ:EYES) saw its shares jump this morning after the largest health insurance provider in Germany (the German national system) renewed its Status 1 reimbursement plan for the company's Argus II Retinal Prosthesis under a special innovation program. Argus II is an implantable visual device that is approved to treat late-stage retinis pigmentosa, and it has been on the market in Europe since 2011.
The renewal of Argus II's Status 1 means that the device can continued to be offered by 19 hospitals in Germany. Approved hospitals are also eligible for additional funding to help offset the costs associated with implanting the system.
So what: Second Sight's shares have plummeted since their IPO (shown below), largely because Argus II's commercial launch has been agonizingly slow.
Based on the company's estimates, for example, the device was implanted in only a little over 100 patients by the end of 2014 -- even though an estimated 1.5 million people globally suffer from this degenerative disorder. So although today's news is exactly a game-changer, it should help to increase the momentum for the device's commercialization.
Now what: The Argus II is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to restoring sight in patients afflicted with retinis pigmentosa. But it's important to remember that Argus II is already being overshadowed by the company's next-generation system for the visually impaired called Orion 1. Orion 1 aims to directly stimulate the visual centers of a patient's brain, which could result in a huge leap forward in terms of improving visual acuity.
Argus II, however, is unlikely to ever turn Second Sight into a cash flow positive operation, meaning that it's probably best to stay on the sidelines with this high risk biotech stock for the time being.