Baltimore-based Harpoon Medical acquired for $100 million

Harpoon Medical, a Baltimore-based medical device company, has been acquired by Edwards Lifesciences Corp. for $100 million.

Under the deal, Harpoon, which is developing a device for minimally invasive heart surgery, will become part of California-based Edwards while retaining its West Camden Street offices. All 18 of Harpoon’s employees are joining Edwards.

The acquisition, which closed Dec. 1, stems from a structured financing agreement Harpoon struck with Edwards in 2015. In that deal, Edwards made an investment of undisclosed value in Harpoon’s research and development efforts in exchange for the option to acquire the company after completion of key clinical trials in Europe.

Harpoon’s device is a less invasive alternative for mitral valve repair, designed to shorten the duration of the procedure and recovery period.

"We believe the addition of Harpoon Medical's technology and talented team will enable even more opportunities to help patients with degenerative mitral regurgitation," Bernard Zovighian, a corporate vice president at Edwards, said in a statement. "The unique beating-heart repair procedure for mitral valve patients complements Edwards' comprehensive portfolio of treatments for structural heart disease, and reinforces our commitment to innovation in cardiac surgery."

The deal also includes up to $150 million in milestone-driven payments over the next 10 years.

Harpoon was founded in 2013 with technology licensed from the University of Maryland and to date has focused on research and development, as well as clinical trials for its device.

The device’s inventor, Dr. James. S. Gammie, is the chief of cardiac surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a professor at the university’s School of Medicine. Gammie had an equity interest in Harpoon and will serve as a consultant to Edwards.

Harpoon is in the process of securing regulatory approval to sell the device to hospitals in Europe.

The acquisition by Edwards gives Harpoon the scale it needs to begin selling in the commercial market, possibly as early as the first half of next year.

“It would have been really hard for us to compete with big companies,” said Harpoon CEO Bill Niland, who is also staying on with Edwards. “They have the engine, they have the worldwide sales and marketing — it makes sense.”

Edwards, a public company, specializes in developing technology to treat structural heart diseases and is known for its heart valve for the aorta.

Harpoon’s operations in Baltimore will remain focused on research and development.

Niland said he hopes to begin selling in the United States by 2020 or 2021.

First, the company will need to obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, a lengthy process. Niland expects to begin a clinical trial for U.S. approval in 2018.

sarah.gantz@baltsun.com

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