Edwards buys mitral valve repair player in $250M deal

Edwards Lifesciences has bought Harpoon Medical in a $250 million deal. The takeover rounds out Edwards’ pitch for the transcatheter mitral valve disease market by giving it control of a technology to repair the hearts of patients with the degenerative form of the condition.

Irvine, CA-based Edwards is paying $100 million upfront and committing up to $150 million in milestones over the next 10 years to acquire Harpoon. The takeout comes two years after Edwards picked up the option to buy Harpoon as part of a deal that saw it invest in the startup.

Harpoon used the cash to bankroll a clinical trial designed to support the CE marking of its device for repairing the valves of patients with degenerative mitral regurgitation, one of two forms of a condition characterized by blood flowing back into the left atrium. With Harpoon now closing in on a CE mark for the device, Edwards has made its move.

The deal means the device will benefit from the infrastructure built up by Edwards, which has bet big on mitral valve technologies, if, as expected, it comes to market in Europe next year.

Harpoon CEO Bill Niland thinks that is a boon for its prospects. 

“It would have been really hard for us to compete with big companies,” Niland told The Baltimore Sun. “They have the engine, they have the worldwide sales and marketing. It makes sense.”

Niland and the near-20 other people working at Harpoon have now joined Edwards. Aside from the European regulatory process, the next step for the team is to get the device into a pivotal trial in the U.S. Harpoon is aiming to start the trial next year, positioning it to bring the device to market in its home territory in 2020 or 2021. 

If Edwards succeeds in guiding the device through the development and regulatory processes, it will add another strand to its transcatheter mitral valve business. Edwards, like its rivals, has bought its way into the sector, notably through the $350 million acquisition of CardiAQ Valve Technologies.