Maryland is a good landing place for a medical device company interested in achieving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Being close to the FDA has helped Maryland’s longest-standing Israeli company, Medispec, build the relationships it needs to get its products to market.
Medispec opened its U.S. office in Gaithersburg in 1992. Since then, Medispec has offered shockwave-based therapy solutions for urology, cardiovascular, and orthopedic applications, among other uses.
“Health care in the U.S. has gone through dramatic changes over the years, most recently with Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010),” Medispec Chief Operating Officer (COO) Anil Dhingra said. “We adjusted our business strategy to align to the changing needs of the health care market.”
For example, Medispec found ways to deliver its innovative technology quickly and efficiently through lending and joint ventures with physicians and hospitals. This strategy kept costs down and helped differentiate Medispec in the marketplace. The company’s closest competitors are in Germany, but Dhingra said those companies don’t offer flexible access to their solutions like Medispec does.
The Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC) also played an important role in Medispec’s success — especially in the beginning, Dhingra said. He recommended that Israeli companies looking for long-term success in the American marketplace land in a community with proper supports.
“It is important to understand: Any Israeli company planning to open shop in Maryland will need [MIDC] to get their initial establishment done,” Dhingra said. “It can be very complex to find office space and deal with insurance, accounting, and tax needs. MIDC has all the resources and contacts to do that.”
When Medispec opened its U.S. office, it relied heavily on MIDC for procuring relationships with banks and others. MIDC helped get the company a soft loan from Montgomery Country, which was returned over a period.
Barry Bogage, executive director of MIDC, believes the secret to Medispec’s success is the company’s creativity. Medispec follows the Israeli tech tradition of maintaining research and development in Israel “where the creative engineering is,” while setting up a local base to serve the U.S. market, said Bogage.
Right now, Medispec is waiting on FDA approval for its newest shockwave therapy device, which will be used to treat erectile dysfunction.
“This will be a game changer,” said Dhingra, explaining that the technology treats erectile dysfunction without medicine through low-intensity extracorporeal shock waves. The low-intensity shock waves help relieve vascular deficiency, a common cause of erectile dysfunction.
The solution is already being used in Europe and Asia, and Dhingra hopes to get FDA approval “very soon.”
Many Israeli companies have a reputation of raising venture capital, building up a technology company quickly, and then selling it off, but Medispec has a track record of growing organically. Medispec currently employs around 30 people in Maryland and over 40 in Israel, and has a distribution network all over the world. The Israeli office serves close to 60 countries.
“Medispec has seen steady growth, adding employees here and in Israel,” said Bogage. “It has not sold off, but continues to innovate, which is really nice to see.”
While the company has never been the direct target of any Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) efforts, Dhingra said its competitors have tried to use the fact that Medispec is an Israeli company against it.
“But we have not lost any business because of it,” he said. “Doctors and patients know the work is good and Israel has amazing technology.”
By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman is the vice president of marketing and brand strategy for Israel365 and a Jerusalem-based freelance writer. She is the former editor in chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times.