Oct 28, 2011

St. Jude's impressive product development time

St. Jude has recently announced approval for its optical coherence tomography / fractional flow reserve (OCT / FFR) system called ILUMIEN (fyi: they have a cheese video of water with words flashing across on their site, the Light Years Ahead tagline is good though).  The press release for FDA approval was on October 26, 2011.  The press release for EU approval was on July 14, 2011.  I'm sure the two extra months the FDA took was value added questions about colorant or something (assuming they did both submissions at the same time).

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to look at St. Jude's performance on this new medical device product development timeline from start to approval.  In this case we have a unique opportunity because we know when St. Jude bought Radi (the FFR part), and when they bought LightLab (the OCT part).  These dates are all approximate, since St. Jude could have waited a few days or weeks to make announcements, but ballpark is good enough for this blog.  St. Jude bought Radi Medical AB for $250 million on December 21, 2008.  St. Jude bought LightLab for $90 million on July 7, 2010.  The EU review was probably 45 business days or about two months, giving a 10 month product development time line.

I will assume they couldn't really get started until July 2010, if so, I think it is impressive to combine these two systems, even if they added no features beside switching, and get approvals in basically a year.  Sure they could have done some work on the cart, and presumably they have some hardware picked out before 2010, but most of the hardware and software will have to wait until you know the specifics- which a company won't give out until it is bought.

Maybe you can make your software modular and they can add in applications quickly as it grows, but it initially came from Radi, and smallish companies don't usually think that far ahead.  Maybe they started on this in 2008.  But more realistically, the software group was given two programs that had no intention of interacting and they managed to make it work in 6 months and 2 months of test.  Oh yeah, the two teams are probably at different sites, so you have that difficulty to constantly work through as well.

There is another wrench to throw into the works, IEC 60601-1:2005 (3rd edition), which is scheduled for EU implementation on June 1, 2012, you'd be crazy not to build a new system to 60601 3rd edition and have to redo it in a year or so for the EU.  So I'm guessing that there was also an update of at least LightLab's system and probably Radi's system to 60601-1 3rd edition included in this device as well.  Now maybe these companies had already made the transition, but small companies I know are behind on this requirement.  Yes, some of the changes are minor, but they still involve significant amounts of work.  Additionally, the 60601 testing itself takes a reasonable amount of time that would have to be worked in.

Now this is assuming the quality of the product is adequate, they could have rushed out junk (although I have no reason to think this based on the water video), I am impressed that they were able to complete this new product and get it approved in such a short period of time, congratulations to them.  Could your company pull this off?


alvaro said...

Completely useful..good source, thanks anyway!

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Janet said...

Very interesting and comprehensive post, thank you very much!