“The best and the brightest in the medtech industry are asking why there are still boundaries between drug and medical device development,” observes Anthony Kalaijakis, strategic marketing manager, medical, for Molex, LLC. He sees a different business approach emerging today.
Molex has been known for its design of electronics and interconnect devices supporting diagnostic, therapeutic, and patient-monitoring applications. A few years ago the company started getting inquiries about drug-delivery systems, reports Kalaijakis. Already increasing its capabilities through a number of acquisitions, Molex added ProTek Medical to its portfolio earlier this year given its expertise in developing drug-delivery systems.
“We’ve had a wide base of customers in device development, and we’ve traditionally served the hardware or electronics side, also known as the distal end,” says Kalaijakis. “We were looking to fill in some of the blanks in terms of drug delivery, so that’s what led us to ProTek. There are specific requirements to meet, so we needed its knowledge base for compliance and safety.”
The acquisition was timely for both companies, given the convergence of medtech and pharma witnessed by Eamon O’Connell, ProTek’s director of business development. “I see a convergence as the pharmaceutical industry seeks to deliver drugs in higher concentration to specific areas. Site-specific treatments are less demanding and achieve a desirable pharmacological response at the selected site, but with a site-specific delivery, you need a device. It requires capabilities from the device market. ProTek has developed the capability to support a Pharma company with the plastics design and manufacturing combined with a regulatory strategy that support the new drug application.”
When asked for examples of such innovations, O’Connell described a project in which a generic drug company sought to develop an alternative to a copper coil traditionally used for contraception. “The customer approached us to design a plastic implant for a slow-releasing drug product. ProTek provided the necessary device design inputs and came up with a delivery device for a 5-year release of drug.”
Given Molex’s experience in electronics, it can help ProTek with such research. And Kalaijakis expects “more and more magical transitions” as medtech and pharma continue to converge. “It will be interesting to see what would develop if the barriers between these industries were to break down,” he says.
Kalaijakis adds that Molex can help with the design continuum, handling industrial design, development of sophisticated tooling, qualification, manufacturing, and packaging.
Other acquisitions for Molex have included certain assets of Soligie Inc., a developer of flexible printed electronic solutions used in medical applications such as diagnostics, EKG leads, surgical equipment/devices, and wearable sensors; Polymicro Technologies; Temp-FlexSpecialty Wire and Cable; Affinity Medical Technologies; and FCT Electronics Group.