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March 03, 2008


Maker of device for wrist breaks gets
FDA approval

By Loralee Stevens, Staff Reporter - North Bay Business Journal

Santa Rosa, CA - (March 3, 2008) – Sonoma Orthopedic Products has received FDA approval for its first product in just 22 months and with less than $6 million in capital, launching the company into a new phase of growth.

The company, founded by orthopedic product developer Charles Nelson and a team of orthopedic surgeons, is bringing to market a minimally invasive device to promote the healing of wrist fractures.

“About one out of six fractures seen in emergency rooms are wrist, or distal radius, fractures,” said Mr. Nelson, Sonoma Orthopedic’s chief operating officer.

In anticipation of marketing the device and a series of others now in development, the company has brought on as CEO Glen Coleman, previously president of U.S. marketing and sales with Wright Medical.

The company was able to obtain 510K approval by showing its
EnsplintRx Fixation Device is equivalent to FDA-approved products.

“I’ve watched the development work on this new intramedullary device
and I believe it will add a significant new treatment option in the care of
distal radius fractures,” said Kai Mazur, M.D., lead clinician of the
development team for Sonoma Orthopedic.

Insurers are expected to welcome the product, which represents an
advance over invasive wrist surgery.

A complicated break necessitates the cutting of tendons, ligaments and
muscles and use of plates and casts to immobilize the joint during
healing. Even a simple break requires a cast. “Twenty-one percent of
traditional methods for treating broken wrists have fair to poor results,”
said Mr. Coleman. “The bone doesn’t heal straight or the patient never
recovers full mobility.”

The SOP device is placed through a small incision into the hollow cavity
inside the bone. Casting isn’t needed and physical therapy can begin
immediately, he said. The product will be manufactured at the company’s
facilities in Larkfield. Sonoma Orthopedic will sell and distribute the device
itself for this first launch, said Mr. Nelson.

“Our current location will be adequate for this year and part of 2009,” he
said. After that, Sonoma Orthopedic, now at 20 employees and growing,
will seek larger quarters in Sonoma County.

The company received two rounds of funding, in May 2006 and May
2007. Each series was for approximately $3 million. MedVenture
Associates of Emeryville led the most recent round. Previous investors
EDF Ventures, Asset Management Company, Halo Fund and angel
investors also contributed.

Mr. Nelson said SOP is working on its capital models and needs and has
not yet reached a conclusion about new funding. It’s also working on
pricing models for the new product.

About 50 employees are expected to be added to the staff within the next
two years. “We’re going to be moving a lot faster this year,” said Mr.
Coleman. “Our next product will most likely be announced in six to eight
weeks. We’re hiring now and that will pick up once revenues are coming

In addition to Mr. Coleman, who joined the staff in October of 2007,
Sonoma Orthopedic has hired a clinical specialist to start supporting and
training physicians in the use of the devices. Operations, quality and
regulatory affairs staff are already in place, according to Mr. Nelson.

For contact information, visit www.sonomaorthopedics.com.


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