From Phone Line to Lifeline
Inspired by a wall jack after a tragic accident, ICU Medical founder George Lopez built a better, more secure IV system.
(Business 2.0) -- The Problem In 1984 physician George Lopez was working in an intensive care unit when a patient arrived with an infection that impairs the heart's ability to pump blood. Lopez began giving medication intravenously and told the patient's wife, "He's coming home soon." But later a nurse called to say that the patient's IV tube had slipped out of the needle port, pouring medicine onto the bed. "I worked for hours," Lopez says, "but he died."
The "Aha!" Lopez went to make a difficult phone call to the patient's wife and, noticing the phone jack in the wall, gave the cord a tug. "This is crazy," Lopez thought. "If this comes out, all I lose is a call, yet it's more secure than the IV." That night he sketched out a new system with a locking device to keep the tube in place. After raising $1 million from doctors and nurses, he launched ICU Medical in San Clemente, Calif., in 1986.
The Payoff ICU Medical has captured nearly 10 percent of the global IV market, which does about $2 billion in annual sales, says analyst Robert Goldman of KeyBanc Capital Markets. ICU's Clave Connector locking IV system holds a 40 percent share in its category, and the company's 2005 profit hit $20.3 million on revenue of $157.5 million. With 2006 sales expected to reach $195 million, ICU's prognosis is excellent.To send a letter to the editor about this story, click here.