What to expect from RTI Surgical in the future: 4Qs with CEO Camille Farhat

Written by Laura Dyrda | October 03, 2018 | Print  |

Camille Farhat, president and CEO of RTI Surgical, discusses the key technology trends in spine today and where his company is headed in the future.

Question: What technology trends are most exciting for you in the spine space today?

Camille Farhat: There are a lot of intriguing trends and technologies in spine, including movement toward outpatient care, 3D printing of interbody fusion devices and growing use of navigation technology and robotics. The rise in 3D printed technology is particularly interesting, as it introduces even more creativity in design and material composition aimed to facilitate positive patient outcomes.

Q: What should we expect in the future from RTI Surgical? Any innovations or news we should keep an eye out for?

CF: RTI's knowledge of tissue, synthetics and hardware puts us in a unique position to re-think what healing means for spine and orthopedics. Our strategy is to grow our spine portfolio through focused R&D and M&A of differentiated products supported by clinical data to meet the needs of surgeons and their patients. Our spine innovation roadmap accounts for industry trends using a disciplined, differentiated approach. Our Fortilink series with TETRAfuse 3D Technology, acquisition of Zyga and recent distribution agreement with Aziyo to exclusively distribute ViBone in the U.S. are recent examples of this.

Q: In your conversations with surgeons, what are the key challenges they are facing today? How does your technology help them meet those challenges (either operationally or clinically)?

CF: The role of the surgeon varies by healthcare system and hospital. Decision-making — such as the type of procedure, products used, etc. — does not fall solely on the surgeon. And yet, the surgeon will continue to be the one responsible for the outcome and well-being of the patient. This dynamic is important to keep in mind. This is one of the reasons we are investing in clinical trials and surgeon training on our products and technologies: to aid in decision-making and increase our value to the surgeon.

Titanium- and PEEK-based spine implants dominate the market, and while they have improved quality of life for many people, there is still more work to do in terms of two critical properties for implants: long-term biocompatibility and mechanical endurance. We designed the Fortilink series with TETRAfuse 3D Technology with an aim to combine key characteristics of titanium, allograft bone and PEEK all in one interbody device.

For more background: TETRAfuse 3D Technology, featured in our Fortilink series of interbody devices, offers surgeons a unique interbody material optimized to participate in fusion while maintaining bone-like mechanical properties and radiolucent imaging. It is the first 3D printed polymer-based interbody device to incorporate a nano-rough surface that demonstrated more notable trabecular bone growth than PEEK or titanium-coated PEEK in preclinical studies.

RTI also intends to initiate enrollment for a prospective, multi-center post-market evaluation of safety and performance of the Fortilink-C, -TS and -L IBF Systems with TETRAfuse 3D Technology in 2018.

Q: Best case scenario, where is the company in three to five years?

CF: RTI's strategy is focused on growing our spine portfolio through disciplined R&D and focused M&A of differentiated products supported by clinical data to meet the needs of surgeons and their patients. Small companies are often challenged with being cash flow positive. In RTI's case, our product mix in tissue generates cash that we can then invest in differentiated spine offerings. Our goal is to build a growing and sustainably profitable business that will treat more patients, create growth opportunities for employees and value for investors.

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