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Is Medical Device Design Going to the Dogs?

Published: May 23, 2011

Arthritic Dog index

The Massachusetts-based Worcester Business Journal featured an interesting opinion piece today proposing that the medical device industry could benefit from research and work being done in the field of veterinary science. In the piece, Deborah T. Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine of Tufts University, opines that collaboration with veterinary clinician scientists could help the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) to achieve its aim of accelerating medical device development while reducing costs and regulatory evaluation.

“The CDRH’s proposed actions include strengthening medical device research infrastructure in the United States and promoting high-quality regulatory science for medical devices,” Kochevar writes. “We feel strongly that this focus on medical device research infrastructure should include a comparative perspective that draws on the expertise of veterinary clinician scientists.” Assistance to the medical device industry, Kochevar notes, could be provided in the form of collaborative medical device design and development or contract research, for example.

And drawing inspiration from veterinary science isn’t a foreign concept; in fact, it has yielded several novel medical devices. A ‘cartridge’ concept employed in the TATE total elbow replacement device for dogs, according to Kochevar, is being applied to the design of joint prostheses for humans, for instance. Likewise, a modified dog hip prosthesis will hit the European market for human use, she says.

While it’s a given that what works for Fido might not work for Frank, Kochevar makes some interesting arguments in favor of closer collaboration between the two fields. After all, it’s easy to see the potential value that veterinary scientists could provide. And it doesn’t hurt to add a fresh, but trained, perspective to medical device design. For OEMs, especially in the orthopedic and cardiovascular sectors, it could be a relationship worth exploring. Some of the big dogs in the medical device industry may just benefit from fostering a friendship with veterinary scientists. —Shana Leonard

 

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