Sunday, October 31, 2004

ADEL, Iowa - Evo Medical Solutions, a company best known as a nebulizer-based manufacturer-distributor and formerly known as Medical Industries America, plans to sell 2,000 Inogen One. 9.5-lb concentrators into the marketplace by the end of the year.

As the exclusive U.S. distributor of Inogen’s cutting-edge concentrator, Evo is barging from the margins of home respiratory care to the red-hot center of a $2 billion-plus home oxygen therapy market.

To lead this new push into oxygen, Evo’s founders, Marilyn and Russell Bird, have turned over leadership of the company to Bryan Hansel, 39, who was previously president of a company in the printing and graphics arts industry, Reyhan, that was last year listed in Inc Magazine’s 500 fastest growing businesses.

Evo is also on a fast growth track. Founded in 1987, the company grew steadily if modestly through 2000, but with the addition of the Innomed’s Nasalaire and the Aeroneb Go last January, sales this year are expected to quadruple the 2000 mark.

Evo has planned a controlled launch of the Inogen One with approximately 2,000 units slotted for 30 customers. Unlike the industry’s other 9-lb. concentrator, AirSep’s Lifestyle, Inogen and Evo are marketing their unit as a stationary and portable solution.

Critics question the appeal of a concentrator that requires users to breathe off a conserver at night. Inogen is now conducting studies to confirm the efficacy of its concentrator at night. And with assistance from its first 30 customers, Ingoen hopes to prove in the field that users can tolerate the system through sleep.

“We’re looking for customers who understand that this is as much about a commitment to change your business as it is about buying a piece of equipment,” said Hansel.

Evo already has commitments for 1,000 units.

Inogen and Evo have made customer feedback a prerequisite for the initial round of concentrator buyers. The manufacturer and distributor are asking suppliers to provide before-and-after oximetry studies and for users to answer questionnaires so they can track changes in patient ambulation.

In return, Evo and Inogen are providing training and marketing support as well as financial modeling.

“We want to do the financial analysis to make sure they are seeing the savings and seeing the performance that we expected them to see,” said Hansel.

To address concerns about night-time breathing, Inogen has added a sleep sensitivity feature that cuts the sensitivity of the conserving device from 0.25 cm of water pressure to 0.10 cm.

“That’s why we’re so confident it’s going to work in the evening,” said Hansel.

In simulated studies on a Hans Rudolph lung machine, Hansel said a bolus of oxygen was firing at the equivalent of every patient inhalation.

“Now we’ve got to validate that in the field,” he said.