1960s – Exploring Opportunities
BIOTRONIK was founded in 1963, as physicist Max Schaldach and electrical engineer Otto Franke developed the first German implantable pacemaker. In the early years, BIOTRONIK‘s primary focus was on solving basic problems. These included short battery service time, the uncertainty of the remaining battery power, and developing a reliable method for connecting the lead to both the pacemaker and the heart. Research and Development (R&D) produced a series of innovations that are considered milestones in pacemaker technology today.
1970s – Expanding the Playing Field
The appointment of Dr. Schaldach as professor for biomedical engineering at Erlangen's Friedrich-Alexander University boosted the company's R&D work. In 1976, the company opened headquarters in Berlin-Neukölln, Sieversufer 8, and eventually moved next door to Woermannkehre 1 (in 1987).
Upon acquiring Stimulation Technology, Inc., BIOTRONIK set up production facilities in Lake Oswego, Oregon, in the United States. At this time, the company also began developing and producing advanced hybrid circuitry and modules for the biomedical industry. This was the harbinger to breakthrough technology in the pacemaker industry. These are pioneering BIOTRONIK achievements that stand out in medical technology history. BIOTRONIK also met the demands of clients and patrons who required pacemakers and diagnostic devices for electrophysiological studies – thus enlarging the range of its customer base.
1980s – New Horizons
The development of physiological stimulation marked the beginning of a new phase in pacemaker therapy. Dual-chamber pacing technology responded more in the way of a patient’s actual needs. These “DDD” pacemakers gave priority to spontaneous heart contractions, as they triggered a stimulus only when necessary. However, this new generation of products were prone to accidental interactions between atrium and ventricle. Having prior experience with dual-chamber pacemakers during the 1960s, BIOTRONIK was prepared and quickly focused on addressing the challenges of DDD technology, subsequently becoming a European market leader with the Diplos 03 pacemaker. Thanks to other technological and commercial successes in the 1980s, BIOTRONIK was able to expand into Europe, South America and Asia.
1990s – Widening the Product Range
In 1993, BIOTRONIK expanded its product range with implantable defibrillators. BIOTRONIK's philosophy of orienting R&D to designing products that would work as close to nature as possible, enabled the company to develop a key achievement: Closed Loop Stimulation. This technology integrated the pacemaker into the body’s natural regulatory system. This allowed it to react to the patient's changing physical and related mental activity.
Another innovation of the 1990s, fractal coating of implantable leads, was also based on a principle of nature. This coating optimizes the lead's electrically active surface, critically improving its electrical sensing and pacing properties. BIOTRONIK is still the forerunner in this field, and the only manufacturer of fractal coated leads.
In 1995, BIOTRONIK added vascular intervention devices such as balloon catheters and stents for the treatment of coronary and peripheral vessels to its product range. In the 1990s, the company also added diagnostic and therapeutic catheters as well as a radio-frequency generators for ablation to its product range further developing the work started in the 1970’s, and now offers a complete product portfolio for electrotherapy for the heart.
Accepting the Challenges of the New Millenium
BIOTRONIK’s Home Monitoring service provides physicians with current data from their implants, regardless of their patients’ location. This innovative technology combines optimal therapy with the most efficient care - increasing and protecting the patient’s security. The ability to follow-up on patients at home after surgical recovery, has lead to a physician’s ability to monitor his or her patients with not only less stress to the patient, but also where a patient’s recovery is documentedly best.
Innovative technologies also improved treatment success in the area of vascular intervention. BIOTRONIK’s absorbable metal scaffold (DREAMS) is performing successfully in the testing phase.
Improved patient safety and quality of life is one of BIOTRONIK’s major concerns, and the company intends to continue its focus in this direction in the years to come.