Medtronic buys Aircraft Medical for $110M to cut respiratory failure from unsuccessful intubation

MCGRATH MAC video laryngoscope--Courtesy of AirCraft Medical

Medtronic ($MDT) just announced the acquisition of Scotland's Aircraft Medical, a maker of video laryngoscopes to facilitate successful intubation of breathing tubes into the trachea, for $110 million in cash.

Respiratory compromise is the second-most-frequent preventable adverse event and one of the highest hospital inpatient expenses in the U.S., Medtronic says.

According to a Medtronic release, Aircraft Medical's devices allow providers to increase the speed and effectiveness of the insertion of breathing tubes by allowing providers to see a patient's vocal cords on a 2.5-inch monitor while performing the procedure.

The company makes the McGRATH MAC video laryngoscopes for routine and difficult intubations, as well as the McGRATH Series 5 for challenging cases. The devices are portable and run on batteries. Aircraft Medical says on its website that they do not require additional training.

Covidien (now part of Medtronic) makes several models of endotracheal tubes. The acquisition continues Medtronic's strategy of buying med tech players that make accessories or add-ons to its existing devices. In September, it bought Lazarus Effect for $100 million to get its hands on the company' nitinol mesh cover, which it expects to use in conjunction with its Solitaire stent retriever for treating stroke.

In 2011, Aircraft Medical signed an exclusive agreement under which Covidien agreed to market and distribute the McGRATH MAC in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

"Aircraft Medical's offerings complement our portfolio, helping us further our commitment to reducing incidents and potential complications from respiratory compromise globally. The company's laryngoscopes will play an important role in our airways portfolio as we develop and provide meaningful innovations that improve patient outcomes," said Steve Blazejewski, president of the Medtronic's patient monitoring and recovery unit, in a statement.

Other startups are also tackling the problem of respiratory compromise or failure stemming from unsuccessful intubation. Galveston, TX's Prospira recently received $50,000 from the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation for its developmental device to track the positioning of endotracheal tubes using optoacoustic imaging. Pediatric patients are at high risk, especially when being transported between hospitals, because they have a short trachea.

- read the release