Since founding LDR in 2000, Christophe Lavigne, President and CEO, has grown the spine startup from its roots in Troyes, France to a public company with a presence in nearly 30 countries.
Lavigne and LDR founders Hervé Dinville and Patrick Richard each bring more than two decades of experience in the spine market. They’ve applied that knowledge to launch innovative devices and surgical approaches that have allowed the company to experience year-over-year growth of 24 percent from 2013 to 2014, a percentage that remains steady in 2015.
BONEZONE interviewed Mr. Lavigne about the company’s growth and his predictions for the future spine market.
BONEZONE: What can industry expect from LDR in the upcoming year or two?
Lavigne: LDR will continue to focus on the Mobi-C® Cervical Disc. Approved by FDA in August 2013, Mobi-C remains the only cervical disc in the U.S. approved for use at both one and two levels. Within LDR’s exclusive cervical technology portfolio, Mobi-C sales are strong.
On the lumbar side, we do not believe the future of degenerative spine fusion surgery will rely on pedicle screw fixation. We view pedicle screws as the last fixation option most appropriate for advanced pathology, significant deformity or revision.
Our vision for the evolution of front and back, or 360° lumbar spine fusion surgery, is to combine a stable interbody construct with a posterior MIS approach that avoids pedicle screws and rods. This can maximize the opportunity for clinical success while preserving the pedicles for more aggressive intervention that might be necessary in the future. One way to think about this approach is what we are now calling Minimal Implant Volume Surgery, or MIVo™ Surgery.
Ultimately, this approach to lumbar instrumentation may result in a 45 percent to 60 percent reduction in the volume of implant material used to stabilize one level of the lumbar spine, while still providing adequate stability to both the anterior and posterior spinal columns and avoiding use of the vertebral pedicles.
In support of the MIVo philosophy on the lumbar side, LDR received FDA 510(k) clearance in June 2015 for our Avenue® T Transforaminal Interbody Fusion Cage. Avenue T is our first VerteBRIDGE® posterior interbody solution for the lumbar spine. This followed 510(k) clearance for our InterBRIDGE® Interspinous Fixation device. These newly cleared products, along with our existing lumbar interbody cages (Avenue® L Lateral Lumbar Cage and ROI-A® Anterior Lumbar Cage), will allow a MIVo surgical approach to treating lumbar degenerative pathology consistently with minimally invasive, stable interbody constructs and non-pedicle screw posterior fixation.
BONEZONE: What are some techniques for remaining competitive in the spine market?
Lavigne: We believe that our focus on innovative products is a significant strength of LDR. LDR’s growth has been driven by exclusive technology products that have highly innovative features and result in improved surgical techniques or better patient outcomes. A business advantage of this focus is that highly differentiated products can better command a premium price with hospital customers. Price pressures in the spine device industry have mostly affected commodity product lines, such as pedicle screws and cervical plates.
BONEZONE: What are some of your greatest lessons learned from your career in the industry?
Lavigne: I developed risk tolerance and learned the importance of disrupting the marketplace by doing something different, or better, than everyone else. You have to work hard to succeed when you’re a startup, while staying committed, focused and creative. At LDR, my co-founders and I paved a new path by developing highly-differentiated exclusive technologies. This includes Mobi-C, currently the only two-level cervical disc with demonstrated superiority compared to fusion in overall trial success at two years. Taking chances and choosing to innovate instead of staying with what’s comfortable has helped LDR flourish.
As a startup, you must have a knack for networking. As an executive, you can never forget that you are always marketing your company. Not just to customers, but also to potential investors and employees. By taking the time to build meaningful, lasting relationships with key stakeholders within my industry, including competitors, prospects and vendors, I gained valuable insights that expedited our growth.
A top corporation requires excellent performance from everyone to achieve its goals. That team-player mentality was instrumental in my successes. A good leader knows that you cannot always take the solo. Sometimes you need to step back and let members of your team share the limelight, while trusting in their ability to deliver a great performance. You also have to respect their differences, as it is these differences that will separate your company from its competition.
BONEZONE: Where do you see the orthopaedic/spine industry in five years?
Lavigne: We believe that cervical disc is one of the biggest opportunities in the spine market for the next five or more years. The overall spine market will continue to be limited by cost containment pressures. However, this is more likely to negatively affect commodity products than cervical disc. Reimbursement challenges will subside for cervical disc as more long-term data regarding the efficacy of disc technology accumulates. We see the spinal non-fusion market growing rapidly due to rising procedure volumes driven by demand for treatments that provide proven patient benefits.