Mathys Medical – Preserving Mobility

Switzerland-based Mathys Ltd. Bettlach focuses on the development, production and distribution of artificial joint replacement products.

In line with its pioneering spirit, the company will continue to develop innovative solutions to address as yet unsatisfied clinical needs hence preserving bone material of the patient.

Mathys, a Swiss family-owned company established in 1946 by Robert Mathys Senior, is a leading European orthopaedic company specialised in the development, manufacture and distribution of endoprosthetic solutions for orthopaedic surgeons, offering joint replacements in the hip, knee & shoulder segment, products for sports medicine as well as biomaterials for surgical treatment of bone defects.

Our industry, the orthopaedic joint replacement market, is growing worldwide, driven by demographics, growing access to medical treatment in the emerging markets and the increased mobility requirements of elderly people in the industrialised world,” says CEO Dr Benjamin Reinmann.

“We strongly believe in preserving the mobility and quality of life of our patients by developing solutions for the clinical challenges of our customers and collaborate very closely with Medical and Material Science Centers globally to innovate new products based on proven treatment philosophies.”

Solid roots

Back in 1946, Mathys was founded for the development and production of machines, equipment, and components from special stainless and acid-resistant steels. A turning point came in 1958 when Robert Mathys Senior met Maurice E. Müller, a well-known and highly respected orthopaedic surgeon, who was later twice nominated for the Nobel prize and in 2002 elected as the most significant orthopaedic surgeon of the 20th century worldwide.

Prof. Müller had the idea of treating complicated bone fractures with a metal plate directly screwed onto the bone as opposed to plaster casts. Together they developed implants and instruments for bone surgery, i.e. trauma plates and screws and later joint reconstruction implants.

In 2002 Mathys acquired Keramed, a specialist in developing and producing ceramic implants, thus becoming one of only a few orthopaedic companies to acquire access to this technology. In 2003 Mathys divested the osteosynthesis, i.e. the trauma business to Synthes-Stratec and retained the joint replacement business. Since then Mathys has grown the business, entering new markets and developing innovative products year by year.

Today, the company is headquartered in Bettlach, Switzerland, has production and development sites in Switzerland and Germany, 12 subsidiaries worldwide and 30 distribution partners. In 2019, with its 520 global full-time staff, Mathys achieved sales of CHF135 M.

“The joint replacement market is a technology and material-science driven market,” explains Dr Reinmann. “As we have our own innovative high performing materials and unique manufacturing know-how, we can develop and produce orthopaedic implant systems which are outstanding in performance and very difficult to copy.”

“Furthermore, we are focusing on developing implants and surgical techniques which allow the surgeon to preserve the patient’s bone and soft tissue as much as possible. We call these bone-preserving implant solutions. This will ensure the mobility of the patient even if he needs, 20 years later, revision surgery and a new implant. Let’s say we enable the surgeon to offer his patients a continuum of care, reflecting our slogan ‘preservation in motion’.”

Sustaining mobility

“When we talk about our core business, we must talk about the disease,” says Dr Reinmann. “Osteoarthrosis, according to the WHO the most common joint disease in the world, is a degenerative disease. In the early stages, the disease can be treated with physiotherapy to maintain mobility and with drugs for pain relief. However, after several years, the only treatment is a joint replacement. The probability of acquiring osteoarthrosis above the age of 65 is 50% in females and 33% in males. Combined with the demographic developments in almost all countries, this presents a huge challenge for global healthcare.”

Mathys offers products in the hip, knee and shoulder segments. All segments can be differentiated in implant solutions among the different stages of the continuum of care. The continuum of care starts with early intervention (prevention of cartilage damage), partial and total joint replacement over the revision stage, to salvage. Mathys’s solutions cover the early intervention, partial and total joint replacement phases.

“The success of an implant is defined by how many years it can stay within the body causing no problems and without being revised,” explains Dr Reinmann. “This is called the implant survival rate. Our knee implant, for example, has a survival rate of more than 97% after 13 years, which is outstanding.”

“Osteoarthrosis in the knee is often caused by the damage and loss of the crucial ligaments. We, therefore, invented a temporary implant called Ligamys which allows the natural crucial ligament to heal and can be explanted afterwards. For the hip, we developed a very small stem (shaft), a latest-generation hip head made of unbreakable ceramics (called: Ceramys) and a hip cup system coated by unique “RM technology” (coated with titanium powder). This combination shows the best survival rate after 4yr compared to the competition.”

Meeting the challenge

Speaking about future developments, Dr Reinmann reflects on the future challenges facing healthcare systems including the new Medical Device Regulation coming into force in 2021 in Europe, which will make the registration process longer and more complex, and the pressure for better cost control. “Consequently, the market is moving away from the implant towards services driven by technology and keeping value-based patient care on the radar. This transformation will further decrease margins and will enhance the consolidation in the market along the whole supply chain.”

“However, challenges always bring opportunities: We see a great opportunity for supporting the orthopaedic surgeon in his interaction with the patient before and after surgery. The increasing availability of technology to monitor the patient and learn more about his habits will help the surgeon manage expectations and address patients’ needs in a time-effective manner. All this available data will further allow more insights and will influence the design of the implants or services. In other words, the smart use of big data will have a huge impact.”

Today Mathys offers planning software solutions for its implants but its strategic intent covers augmented reality support for the surgeon during surgery but also to prepare the patient before and after surgery, Dr Reinmann reveals. “That requires optimizing the patient journey. We are currently assessing the possibilities with different partners to offer one full solution. On the other hand, we will invest in one of our core technologies to leverage it and make it available to new partners.”

He points out that despite the rising voice within the healthcare systems to reduce costs, patients with osteoarthrosis suffering from pain will ultimately need an arthroplasty. “In this context, offering reliable implants in combination with smart technologies, but not adding additional costs to the surgical procedure, will be the key for our growth in our existing markets and perhaps also in new markets,” Dr Reinmann concludes.

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