Biotronik on verge of recognition after newest innovation on medical technology

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Above, it is somewhat difficult to see Biotronik's building in Lake Oswego. But you cannot hide its eminence in the field of medical technology for heart care.  Right, testing, testing and more testing is the key to Biotronik's success. The company will be observing its golden anniversary this year.Biotronik has had its Pacific Northwest headquarters in Lake Oswego for many years, but not many people are aware of the company’s office complex on Jean Road.

The building is large and nice, but not easily viewed by passersby.

However, this low profile is changing quickly. Not only is Biotronik celebrating its 50th anniversary in July, but some innovations in the field of cardiovascular medical technology are also gaining much attention and admiration: its new single-chamber ICDs (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators). In February, the Food and Drug Administration granted final approval for the Biotronik Lumax 740 DX Systems.

Now, Rex Richmond, Biotronik’s vice president of marketing and communications, is ready to blow the company’s horn.

“The development of the single-chamber ICD is the most significant innovation in the last decade,” Richmond said, “not just for us but for the industry. It has been on the market since Feb. 25, and we’ve had a very strong reaction.

“We have scaled up already and we’re ready to easily meet the demand of the world. We’ve got 500 service representatives in the field across the USA.”

It looks like Biotronik has covered all of the bases with its new ICD. But that has been the basis of the company’s operation since it was founded in Berlin, Germany, in 1963 by Max Schaldach Jr., a physician who developed the first pacemaker.

“We’re highly dependent on quality and reliability,” Richmond said. “There is no other country with a record as spotless as Biotronik.”

Richmond said Biotronik’s operation is driven by three things: Where? The company has only three operation centers — the USA, Germany and Switzerland. How? Intense commitment to vertical integration control on every step of building devices. Because the devices are totally robotic, there is no human error. Testing? Every component is tested multiple times and every device is tested multiple times.

This philosophy is exemplified with the development of the new single-chamber ICD.

“This device senses and delivers therapy in the right ventricle,” Richmond said. “That’s important because of the controversy over the effectiveness of leads.”

A lead is a thin electric wire that delivers an electrical shock to the heart when the heart rate becomes too fast.

However, multiple leads have been proven to increase the risk of complications. The single-lead ICD changes that situation.

Dr. Bradley P. Knight, a national authority on heart rhythm disorders, said, “The DX System addresses a significant gap in ICD therapy. Patients now have access to the benefits of both dual- and single-chamber ICDs without the risk of additional hardware.”

This is excellent news for the 50,000 patients who receive an ICD each year in the United States.

The reason Lake Oswego has a special reason for celebrating this achievement is that the city has played a key part in Biotronik’s success story.

This city has been Biotronik’s American home since 1978.

“The most critical decision this company ever made was picking the right location to open its offices in the USA,” Richmond said. “The company took a long and hard look and picked the Pacific Northwest.

“Because the talent and expertise is here (e.g., Microsoft, Intel, Tektronics). Plus, it’s a great place to live and shares our core ethical values.”

Richmond had a few handy statistics that reflect Biotronik’s eminence: 460 employees, production of 100 percent of high-voltage ICD devices; and production of 85 percent of pacemakers.

The lone area where Biotronik has lagged is getting the proper due for its achievements.

“Biotronik has been a hidden jewel,” Richmond said. “It’s my job to make it happen on getting recognition.”

For more information about Biotronik, visit

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