InterTherapy builds sales network

May 22, 1991

InterTherapy plans to sell its intraluminal ultrasound line inthe U.S. through a network of distributors and independent manufacturers'representatives, combined with some direct sales personnel, saidJerry Mezger, president and CEO. Mezger joined

InterTherapy plans to sell its intraluminal ultrasound line inthe U.S. through a network of distributors and independent manufacturers'representatives, combined with some direct sales personnel, saidJerry Mezger, president and CEO. Mezger joined InterTherapy inJanuary.

The Santa Ana, CA, start-up firm had a distribution agreementwith cardiovascular ultrasound vendor Biosound of Indianapolis,but this arrangement was terminated last year. Biosound's parent,Esaote of Italy, subsequently invested in Endosonics of Pleasanton,CA, and signed a development and marketing agreement with thatintraluminal ultrasound firm (SCAN 3/27/91).

"My approach is not to lock ourselves into (a distributionpartnership) with one large organization in the U.S.," Mezgertold SCAN. "If (that group) is enthusiastic about the product,they sell it. If they are not, they may not do such a good job,and you (the supplier) are stuck."

InterTherapy has been selling a 4.9-French intraluminal ultrasounddevice for the past year and has two systems awaiting Food andDrug Administration market approval. The first new product willbe a 3.9-French catheter that is better suited for coronary work,Mezger said.

Farther back in the FDA process is a substantially redesigned3.9-French monorail catheter. InterTherapy's current intraluminalsystem has been well received for its image quality but is viewedby some users as cumbersome to handle, he said.

The introducer design on InterTherapy's present device hasa sheath that goes over a guidewire. Once the catheter is inserted,the guidewire must be pulled out in order to place the ultrasoundimaging assembly down the sheath. The monorail catheter has aguidewire on the outside of the sheath instead, he said.

THE MARKET FOR INTRALUMINAL ultrasound systems has been growing,but at a moderate pace. It is dominated by interventional cardiologists,Mezger said.

"This is a new technology. Doctors are still trying tofigure out where and how to use it. We see the primary use forthe product as a diagnostic tool for balloon angioplasty and asa guiding tool for atherectomy or laser catheters," he said.

While the competition is fierce among the many suppliers ofangioplasty therapy devices, only four vendors are active in theintraluminal ultrasound market:

  • Diasonics, in cooperation with catheter firm BostonScientific;

  • Cardiovascular Imaging Systems, which signed a cooperativemarketing agreement in March with ultrasound vendor Siemens (SCAN3/27/91);

  • Endosonics; and

  • InterTherapy.

While Diasonics and Siemens have the ability to combine intraluminalwith standard ultrasound imaging, this option may not be attractiveto specialists outside radiology, Mezger said.

"The interventional cardiologist doesn't want to pay forother (standard imaging) functions or share equipment with a radiologistwho might be three stories away in the (hospital) building,"he said.