Who Owns Renal Denervation?

When a new technology emerges, there’s always the predictable scrabble to put stakes in the ground. Like kids in the playground fighting over the last cookie. Except, when it comes to medical device technology it’s all far more complicated and indeed far more important to the players. Especially when the stakes are as high as they are with renal denervation, a technology that hasn’t yet gained FDA approval, yet is threatening to become therapy of choice in the battle against numerous human frailties.

So to the intellectual property, which is about as complicated as it gets, mainly because of the interdependence of the body’s systems. You see, renal denervation is performed in the renal arteries, fancy pants electrodes being inserted in the groin, fed up to the target area and then activated. The result is a striking and seemingly sustained reduction in blood pressure, even in patients for whom years of drug therapy and lifestyle change have no had the desired effect.

What complicates the picture is that the therapy, while administered in the renal arteries, actually plays out on various systems by virtue of its impact on the sympathetic nervous system. So while the folk who first patented the concept of zapping the renal sympathetic nerves with a view to them reducing blood pressure, have seemingly got it tied up, one wonders about the other groups, one of whom filed a patent relating to the impact of renal denervation on the heart. Because the sympathetic nervous system controls many facets of heart function, it’s argued that the heart bit is the bit that mostly influences blood pressure.

So who did get there first… and who owns what? Really hard to see at this stage, but in this piece on the website www.whatisrenaldenervation.com, the first of a two part article on the subject, the players and their claims are unpicked.