The Motley Fool: For those not familiar with Hansen Medical, can you briefly explain the business and how you plan to grow profits?
Frederic Moll: Hansen Medical has developed and manufactures a new generation of medical robotics designed for accurate positioning, manipulation, and stable control of catheters and catheter-based technology. With this new technology, we have the opportunity to transform a catheter into a surgical tool utilizing robotic technology, and by doing so, significantly open up a whole new host of interventional procedures, with our first target market as electrophysiology. We plan to grow our profits by expanding our platform technology and applying it to procedures outside of the electrophysiology market.
TMF: Hansen recently received approvals in both the U.S. and Europe for its robotic catheter system. Can you describe a typical patient who would need treatment with your device and how it helps them?
FM: A typical patient is one suffering from an arrhythmia that would need minimally invasive treatment using catheter-based technique. The success of these types of procedures depends on the ability of the physician to precisely place the catheter in hard-to-reach anatomic locations in the heart. By using manual technique, it can be very difficult to achieve precise placement because the physician doesn't have control over the tip of the catheter once placed in 3-D spaces inside the body. Our Sensei Robotic Catheter System with the Artisan Control Catheter allows the physician to sit at a work station and control the tip of the catheter using robotic technology, allowing physicians of all skill levels to accurately steer and place catheters.
TMF: What advantage do you have over competing products?
FM: The Sensei system allows physicians to place mapping catheters in hard-to-reach anatomical locations within the heart easily, accurately, and with stability during the diagnostic phase of complex cardiac arrhythmia treatment. Our main competitor uses magnetic technology. With magnetic technology, it is difficult to steer the catheter exactly where you want it to go because you are not directly steering the catheter tip. In addition, there is the issue of variable force. Since the inside surface of the heart is comprised of peaks and valleys, physicians need to change the amount of force they exert on the catheter depending on the specific part of the heart they are working in. Robotics technology allows physicians to vary this force, whereas magnetic technology only provides one consistent level of force. Additionally, the Sensei system has proprietary IntelliSense technology, which provides physicians with information on exactly how much force they are applying in the heart. The Sensei system is configured to fit into existing hospital catheter labs and procedure rooms. It does not require new construction or room build-out, as magnetic technology requires.
TMF: What is the market opportunity in the U.S. and abroad for your approved indications?
FM: Hansen Medical received both FDA and CE Mark clearance earlier this year. In the U.S., the clearance allows physicians to use our robotic platform to place and control mapping catheters during the diagnostic phase of complex cardiac arrhythmia treatment. In the European Union, the Sensei system and Artisan catheter received approval for use during cardiac ablation treatment procedures. It is estimated that over 5 million people suffer from complex cardiac arrhythmias, all of whom would be candidates for our technology. Currently, catheter placement and manipulation is so difficult that just a fraction of these patients are treated with catheter ablation. In the U.S., just 60,000 procedures were performed last year in approximately 2,000 labs. Physicians using this product say the Sensei system has the potential to fundamentally change the way these cardiac procedures are performed to a more standard approach for complex diseases.
TMF: What do you feel about Hansen's current stock price? In an ideal world, what would Hansen look like five years from now?
FM: Hansen went public at $12.00 per share in November 2006 and is now trading significantly above that, so we are pleased with the reception the investors have given us to date.
Five years from now, I would like to see Hansen Medical as the market leader for flexible robotically controlled tools, which may include devices other than just catheters in interventional labs of all sizes, from large teaching centers to small community hospitals. This technology has the potential to benefit the patient, the physician, and the hospital administrator, as it may enable more sophisticated procedures to be offered without the need for referrals to large teaching centers.
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