Israel's Itamar looks to China, Canada and beyond for growth

Itamar Medical's WatchPAT home sleep test--Courtesy of Itamar Medical

Last year brought new sales agreements in the U.S. and Japan as well as a new focus on the lucrative sleep disorder market for Israeli devicemaker Itamar Medical. Now, the Medtronic-backed company says it's casting its deal net far and wide in 2015.

CEO Gilad Glick told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview that it's actively looking for partnerships from "Sweden to Canada" to increase its sales after 7 years of lackluster growth.

Glick's aim is to penetrate new markets with Itamar's sleep apnea diagnostic device, dubbed WatchPAT, which gained FDA clearance in June last year. The device monitors a patient's pulse by using a fingertip sensor to track the health of nerves and blood vessels, which provides a noninvasive "window" to the cardiovascular system and the autonomic nervous system. Patients can wear the WatchPAT monitor at home on the wrist with a small clamp extending to one finger.

Despite the U.S. nod, Glick told Businessweek that the portable device has struggled to compete with diagnostic standards that measure breathing. But with the backing of device giant Medtronic, Itamar said it's now targeting U.S. cardiologists directly in an effort to improve sales of its device for sleep apnea, a condition that can lead to congestive heart failure.

"We're changing the paradigm of the entire approach to sleep apnea from a tiredness and snoring disease to a major contributor to cardiac diseases," Glick told Businessweek. "If you don't take care of sleep apnea you have worse cardiac diseases and worse readmission rates and much more costs to the system."

The company's other major device offering is the EndoPAT, designed to detect a heart condition called endothelial dysfunction. This larger cardiovascular system, which is also FDA approved, must be used in a clinic. To get sales of that device off the ground, Itamar is striking a deal with Beijing Viable Medical Investment Co., according to Businessweek.

Currently, Itamar is listed in Tel Aviv, but the company has its sights set on making its debut on the Nasdaq sometime in the near future, a move that could propel the devicemaker's growth.

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