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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Changes Abound for Top Medical Device Makers

Big changes are in the air for some of Orange County’s largest medical device makers.
The top local firms in one of OC’s most vital industries made headlines in the past year, ranging from proposed spinoffs to a $3.7 billion sale.

Despite the turmoil, local employment has continued to grow, albeit slowing down in recent years.

The 25 companies on the Business Journal’s list of medical device makers reported 23,092 employees, a 1.1% increase from a year ago. A year ago, employment growth was 2.1%.

The list includes companies with at least 100 employees in Orange County.

Topping the list once again was Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) with 5,033 employees, a 3.5% increase from a year ago.

Its employee count may fall next year as Edwards plans to spin off its Critical Care unit into an independent publicly traded company. Separation of the unit, which makes a variety of patient monitoring products for hospital settings, is set to be completed near the end of this year.

“The planned spinoff of our Critical Care product group will enable Edwards to completely focus on structural heart disease, allowing more agility and increased speed of innovation, and we are excited to see what they will accomplish as an independent company,” Chief Executive Bernard Zovighian said in this year’s annual report.

The spinoff is Zovighian’s biggest move since he became CEO last May, replacing Mike Mussallem, who built Edwards into the second most valuable public company in Orange County with a market cap of $54 billion.

Mussallem last month said that he was retiring as executive chairman, effective at the next shareholder meeting on May 7.

Masimo’s Moves

Another possible spinoff comes from Irvine’s Masimo Corp. (Nasdaq: MASI), which is best known for its monitoring products used at hospitals.

Masimo on March 22 announced a potential separation of its consumer business that would include the Stork baby monitor, Freedom smartwatch and hearing aids the company is currently working on.

The company recently said that it was considering a possible joint venture and has already “been approached by a potential partner,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Masimo saw its local headcount drop 15% to 788 employees. Companywide, its headcount also decreased 8.3% to 9,000 employees.

Boston Scientific Buy

Another big move is taking place at Axonics Inc. (Nasdaq: AXNX), which is being bought by Boston Scientific Corp. for $3.7 billion.

The Irvine-based medical device maker of products to treat incontinence grew its OC headcount by 12% to 331 employees. It is expected to keep its local operations intact after the sale.

The sale is expected to close in the first half of this year, according to Boston Scientific.

“Our team is looking forward to the global impact we can make as part of Boston Scientific as we endeavor to bring these life-changing therapies to more patients than ever before,” CEO Raymond Cohen said in a statement.

Largest Growers

For the second year in a row, the biggest increase on the list, by percentage, was No. 18 Aliso Viejo-based RxSight Inc. (Nasdaq: RXST), whose employee count jumped 44% to 203.

The company, which touts the world’s first adjustable eye lens after cataract surgery, reported revenue increased 82% to $89 million in 2023.

“Since all our products are made in Aliso Viejo, this revenue growth led to a significant expansion of our workforce in Orange County, especially in the manufacturing sector,” Anisa Nammar, associate director of marketing communications, told the Business Journal.

RxSight now offers two lenses in its Light Adjustable Lens (LAL) product line. The company at the beginning of the month announced the commercial launch of LAL+, a new eye lens designed to slightly extend the depth of focus.

The next largest local jump came from Santa Ana’s Medtronic Heart Valves, which climbed 20% to 724 employees, followed by a 20% increase to 454 employees at Aliso Viejo-based Glaukos Corp.

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