Respironics grooms a workhorse

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. - Everybody knows what the revolution will look like when it comes to home oxygen therapy: It’ll weight less than 10 pounds, and the unit will serve as both a stationary and portable oxygen generator. Whether that day comes sooner or later, no one knows. But no one’s holding his breath.

Meanwhile, other companies are pushing the evolutionary envelope with transfilling home oxygen systems, sleek liquid systems and portable concentrators. Little attention is paid to the stable old workhouse of the rental fleet - the standard, stationary concentrator.

But this year Respironics is, or has. At Medtrade, the company is rolling out a ‘significantly enhanced’ version of its 5 LMP Millennium concentrator. This M version of the five-year-old machine comes onto the market with re-engineered sieve beds and, at 50 decibels, it is less noisy.

The unit weighs less than 50 pounds and contains 63% fewer moving parts. The sieve beds have been reengineered to produce less heat and last longer. Respironics will periodically offer 90-day sales promotions that offer a lifetime warranty on the M series concentrator.

The concentrator, says the product’s manager, John McLellan, is proof-positive that Respironics is committed to a market that many consider to be led by Invacare, and with equal secondary shares held by Airsep, Sunrise Medical’s DeVilbiss and Respironics.

“Strategically, we’re in the oxygen busiess because 40% of the homecare provider’s revenue comes from oxygen therapy,” said McLellan. “It’s a very conscious decision from our senior management in this company to really invest in this product line.”

Respironics’ commitment to concentrators was not always a given. When the company laid off 150 people in its Kennesaw. Ga. concentrator factory last winter, Respironics could have easily exited the market, as Puritan Bennett did several years ago, and invested more heavily in the attractive sleep market.

Instead, Respironics took the money it saved from restructuring and started regrooming its workhorse. At Medtrade, the company is introducing three products in oxygen.

“Our oxygen product pipeline is the fullest it’s ever been, at Healthdyne or Respironics,” said McLellan.