The statistics are alarming. The second most common cancer in men worldwide, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Even more worrying, due to limitations of imaging equipment, it is notoriously difficult to pinpoint if, and where, this cancer resides.
“Prostate cancer standard-of-care has not changed in the last 25 years,” says Dr. Chicuong La, CEO and founder of Focal Healthcare Inc. “With current technology, biopsies are done “blind” by random sampling of the prostate. Without targeting a specific region, it is difficult to determine the location and extent of disease. This approach creates many risks, including over-treatment of insignificant cancers and under-treatment of aggressive and significant cancers – it’s a problem.”
It is there that Dr. La recognized the gap; one he intends to fill with the Fusion Bx System. With his experience in applied medical research and medical imaging devices, Dr. La started Focal Healthcare to make prostate cancer easier to find – and ultimately easier to treat. The Fusion Bx system combines the ease and low cost of ultrasound biopsies with the high resolution of MR images in a process known as MRI/ultrasound Fusion to enable clinicians to accurately target suspicious cancer regions during biopsy and therapy procedures.
“Our technology will lead to better clinical outcomes and improved patient care at a price point accessible not only to large hospitals, but small clinics as well,” says Focal Healthcare Business Development Manager, Lauren Killip.
Focal Healthcare eyes the U.S. market first
“When it comes to medical devices, the Canadian market is very different than the U.S. market,” says Killip. “Canada tends to be more comfortable with a proven product – they like to see how a product develops elsewhere first. Also, the U.S. MRI/ultrasound Fusion market is more developed.”
The proof is in the numbers; at approximately $6.4 billion annually, Canada’s medical device market accounts for only about two percent of the global market. The U.S. meanwhile accounts for over 36 percent of the global market, bringing in almost $120 billion in sales revenue annually.
“We intend to bring the technology to other markets once we have proven ourselves in the U.S.; those plans definitely include Canada,” assures Killip.
Searching for resources
With the U.S. being Focal Healthcare’s first point of entry, Killip knew her priority was to get informed about exporting. Not sure where to start, she attended an Export Development Canada (EDC) panel event in Calgary, organized to help companies in the Life Sciences and Health Care sector grow beyond Canada.
“The panel brought professionals in the field together to talk about the challenges of selling to international markets, and we heard solutions to issues we have been coming up against ourselves,” says Killip. “The big question for us was how do we evolve from developing a life-saving product, to actually selling it in a foreign market?”
Still in the development stage of the business cycle, discussions centered on what kinds of market intelligence resources were available to them. “EDC introduced us to Trade Commissioners in the Life Sciences sector who have been very helpful. We expect they’ll be a key partner for us through the transition of exporting our product to the U.S.”
On the road again
On the heels of a number of successful Life Sciences and Health Care events last year, EDC is going on the road again in 2015. “The Life Sciences sector in Canada is growing,” says Joanne De Franco, EDC Advisor.
“The medical device market alone has increased over 35 per cent from 2007 to 2012. And there are a lot of players in the industry; bringing them all together to talk about shared challenges and strategies provides an invaluable support system.”
For more information contact EDC’s Joanne De Franco.