Stryker buys 'non-core' VertiFlex spinal implant tech

Stryker ($SYK) is buying up a number of VertiFlex's spinal surgery implants and technologies for an undisclosed price.

San Clemente, CA-based VertiFlex announced the transaction, which will involve cash-up-front, milestone payments and a long-term licensing deal.

Both companies gain good things from their new arrangement. Stryker's spinal division gets new products to bolster its overall line. And Stryker, which has pursued a number of acquisitions in recent months, becomes partners with a smaller rival focused on developing a minimally invasive treatment for spinal stenosis, a space ripe for growth.

VertiFlex, on the other hand, stresses that the sale involves spinal implants "not core" to its ongoing operations. The deal gives it cash, VertiFlex notes, non-dilutive funding that helps it advance its spinal stenosis product development. It's a great way, too, to gain new funding without having to turn to an increasingly difficult venture capital market. But in partnering with VertiFlex, will Stryker eventually buy the company outright? Time will tell.

VertiFlex, launched in 2005, is purusing an IDE trial in the U.S. regarding its Superion Interspinus Spacer System. According to its website, VertiFlex has involved 31 U.S. spine centers in the massive spinal stenosis trial and completed its enrollment of 470 patients in December 2011. The company bills it as the largest ever FDA PMA trial for a spinal stenosis device.

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