Huntley, Illinois medtech Life Spine says its devices used to surgically treat spine disorders are now sold in 30 countries, including Vietnam and parts of South America.
The announcement Wednesday of additional global expansion comes weeks after the Justice Department sued Life Spine for allegedly paying kickbacks to surgeons that resulted in false claims.
The lawsuit filed against Life Spine paints a picture of a company that built a U.S.-focused business by "aggressively" recruiting surgeons and using consulting fees and other payments to induce use of its devices. Life Spine allegedly spent more than $7 million on such fees and failed to fully comply with the reporting rules set out in the Physician Payment Sunshine Act.
Richard Greiber, VP of business development at Life Spine, said in a statement Wednesday the company’s international footprint "has been rapidly growing over the past few years driven by a strong interest in our Micro Invasive portfolio." Greiber also used the statement to tout the "substantial attention" Life Spine’s international distribution channels have shown in its joint fixation system.
The interest has manifested in Life Spine hosting more than 140 international surgeons for training sessions using cadavers since 2016, according to the company. Last month, Life Spine said revenues grew 27% over the first half of the year but the privately held company has yet to quantify the financial contribution of overseas customers to its business.
The company received 510(k) clearance in late July for the 8mm to 10mm widths of its Prolift Expandable Spacer System.
UBS analysts surveyed spine surgeons and neurosurgeons in May on spine procedure and implant trends. “While we do not anticipate a large fall off in spine growth we think the market will likely grow very low single digits at best and think further slowing is more likely than acceleration,” the analysts wrote in a subsequent report.