ConTIPI Medical has kept a low profile since it was founded ten years ago. It was known that the company was developing a tampon-like product for treatment of incontinence, that it had signed a marketing agreement with one of the leading companies in this segment, and that it had eventually been sold for $90 million. That, however, is more or less what has been released to the public. With whom was the commercialization agreement signed? Did the product reach the market? Today, with the emergence of the "new ConTIPI," Dr. Elan Ziv, founder of both of the company's incarnations, reveals its full history and plans for the future.
Procter and Gamble disappointed
"We started in 1998," Ziv says. "A new operation had then arrived in Israel for treating incontinence, a wonderful operation called TVT, in which a device was implanted through the vagina to support the urethra. I thought that it might be possible to avoid the surgery and put a component in the vagina to support the urethra."
The first product developed by ConTIPI looked like a tampon, but when inserted, opened up inside the vagina and took the shape of a reverse tripod wrapped in unwoven cloth. The device did not restrict everyday activity, such as urination, but it was possible and desirable to remove during sexual intercourse.
ConTIPI obtained FDA approval for its product relatively quickly. It was positioned as a prescription product, and the company signed a marketing agreement with female hygiene giant Procter and Gamble. "In 2009, however, all of their prescription products business was sold to an Irish company," Ziv says. The company notified ConTIPI that it would convert the product into one that could be sold without a prescription, "but the female hygiene products division was not so interested in us," he remembers. "In 2010, we were informed that they would get around to converting the product with the FDA only in 2013."
Ziv made a tough decision for a young company that had already contracted an agreement with a large corporation. "We decided to combine forces with a corporation that had always pursued us, Kimberly Clark, Procter and Gamble's competitor."
"Globes": Did you leave a lot of angry people at Procter and Gamble?
Ziv: "You could say that."
Kimberly Clark itself was about to put a special hygienic bandage for incontinence on the market, and the combination of the products was suitable for it. "We made thousand of devices for them and financed by them, and in September 2013, when the product was ready to go to market, we sold the company for numbers a little higher than what was reported ($90 million was the initial sum, after which additional sums were received). At the same time, Kimberly Clark built a huge factory in Mexico, and it produces tens of thousands of units there."
The sale reflected a return of nine times the investment. The beneficiaries included Zeev Bronfeld, who founded the company with Ziv; Capital Point, which invested in the LN Innovative Technologies incubator, from which ConTIPI graduated; and private investors, such as Gad Somekh and Yuli Tamir.
The product is not marketed in Israel, but Ziv says that it is sold in the US market with great success. "This product is no longer ours. We get money from time to time as a milestone payment, and we're mostly glad about its success. It has no competition right now, but I'm sure that Procter and Gamble will find a way to this market at some stage."
The entrepreneurship bug thoroughly infected Ziv and his team, and that is how ConTIPI Medical was founded. The company currently deals with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) The product is still a perishable product inserted into the vagina, so the company is operating on familiar territory.
"The incontinence and POP markets are different. POP requires diagnosis by a doctor. 50% of women have some prolapse. In severe cases, you can even see the internal organ leave the vagina. The feeling is as if they are about to lay an egg." Today, if a woman suffers from pain or difficult in walking, the prevailing practice is to surgically insert a net to support the organs. The net itself, however, is anchored to tissue that is not strong. Johnson & Johnson, for example, were sued for damages inflicted on the tissue by the net and had to pay billions of dollars in damages. The reputation of surgery for the problem was stained.
There is a middle product - a pessary - a kind of rubber ring in the vagina on which the organs lean. "The problem is that it is hard to insert and remove the product without help from a doctor, and it is replaced every three months," Ziv explains.
For someone familiar with ConTIPI Medical, its solution is rather obvious - a tampon-like product inserted into the vagina, where it expands into a supporting ring. Once a prescription is obtained, the patients can operate the product by themselves. "The product can be in the vagina for up to seven days. You can take it out whenever you want in order to conduct sexual relations," Ziv says.
The product has already been approved for marketing in Europe and is in the process of trials with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "All of the major companies are in touch with us. We probably won't sell to Kimberly Clark again, because they only make shelf products. It has to be a prescription product, because we want to make sure that a woman is correctly diagnosed. The product will therefore be marketed by a medical equipment company with a connection to the consumer," Ziv explains.
The company is currently raising $10-12 million. ConTIPI Medical has other products that it is not revealing yet, and is likely to develop them after this product is sold or commercialized through a marketing company.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 17, 2018
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