Venclose, a San Jose-based medical device company, just received $27 million in a Series C round led by the Ally Bridge Group. The funding will support the company’s efforts to market its radio frequency (RF) ablation treatment for venous reflux. In addition, Venclose has a second product in the pipeline, which will soon be submitted to the FDA.
“It’s all about expansion and growing,” said Venclose chairman and CEO Jerry Gibson in a phone interview. “We had seven salespeople, and this year we added some more. Currently, we have around 12, and we’ve actually hired 12 additional salespeople, and they’re going through training as we speak.”
According to Gibson, the company will need the extra help to keep up with the market. The device received FDA 510(k) approval around two years ago and appears to be gaining ground.
“This month, after less than two years of having this product on the market in the United States, we will have treated 50,000 patients,” Gibson said. “That’s phenomenal and unheard of in the medical device industry, where it takes years for some products to get traction.”
Venous reflux, also called venous insufficiency, happens when one-way valves in lower extremity veins are damaged, allowing blood to flow backward. Patients can experience pain, swelling, poor wound healing, varicose veins and other issues.
RF ablation has been used for more than a decade to treat the condition. The device is inserted into the vein through a catheter and heats the damaged areas to seal them. While Medtronic has been a leader in the field with its VeneFit procedure obtained through its Covidien acquisition, Gibson believes the Venclose’s technology offers patients and clinicians a better option.
Gibson notes that older approaches may require two different-sized catheters, depending on the characteristics of the veins being ablated. This means physicians must remove and reinsert the catheters during the procedure. The Venclose System eliminates that issue.
“If you are a physician, and you’ve got the catheter inserted in the vein, and you want to move from 10 centimeters, which is what you utilize to do large portions, to go to the two-and-half centimeter heating element, you just turn and touch the screen,” said Gibson. “It switches automatically in that moment. It’s instantaneous in comparison to pulling out a catheter and inserting another one.”
The device also has a curved tip to better navigate difficult veins and other features that can significantly reduce procedure time. Venclose faces stiff competition, but Gibson believes the company’s nimbleness, and the product’s superiority, will continue to win converts.
“It’s amazing how we’ve grown just by word of mouth in a short period of time,” said Gibson. “We’ve gone from a nobody to doing 50,000 patients to hearing KOLs (key opinion leaders) on the podium talk about how Venclose may be the next standard of care for venous insufficiency to, the next conference, hearing another KOL saying Venclose is the standard of care.”
While that may be true, there may be a movement away from RF ablation in the field to nonthermal treatments, according to a 2018 article enumerating the developments in managing veinous diseases.