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Monroeville company's device approved to assist fertilization

Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A Monroeville medical device firm says it has an answer for the increasing problem of infertility among couples.

Rinovum Women's Health has started selling a device approved by the Food and Drug Administration called the Stork, which can help improve the chances a woman will get pregnant.

“This is the first step in assisted fertilization,” Rinovum CEO Steve Bollinger said. “Let the Stork be the first step.”

And if Bollinger's plans work out, the device could be as common on drugstore shelves as pregnancy tests and ovulation kits, delivering substantial sales for the 3-year-old company.

The Stork is only available with a prescription, but Bollinger said he's working with the FDA to make it available over the counter.

The $80 at-home device replicates intracervical insemination, a form of artificial insemination traditionally performed in a medical setting, in which semen is deposited at the cervix. Intracervical insemination can increase the likelihood of pregnancy by 10 to 20 percent, Bollinger said.

And it's less invasive and not as expensive as more popular methods of artificial insemination, such as in vitro fertilization ($20,000 to $25,000) and intrauterine insemination ($1,000 to $5,000), he said.

In vitro fertilization involves fertilizing an egg outside the woman's body and then implanting the egg in the uterus. Intrauterine insemination injects a concentrated batch of sperm directly into the uterus.

“We're not the perfect solution for everyone, but we're a darn good solution for a lot of them,” he said.

The 48-year-old Bollinger, a graduate of Franklin Regional High School and the Military Academy at West Point, returned to Pittsburgh several years ago after founding and then selling three health care companies on the East Coast. He joined the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, a South Side incubator for startup companies in the health care industry, and began working on his idea for the Stork.

In January, Rinovum, which changed its name last year from Intimate Bridge 2 Conception Inc., moved out of the Greenhouse and into offices in Monroeville.

“We are proud that Rinovum Women's Health has outgrown the incubator and continues to add employees as they prepare to launch their first product to market,” said John Manzetti, Greenhouse CEO.

The 11-year-old incubator houses five companies and has helped more than 30 companies with startup space over its history.

Rinovum has seven employees and Bollinger said he expects to add three workers by next month. The device is being made by Seko, a contract manufacturer in Warrendale.

Bollinger declined to provide a sales forecast for the company. But he said 1.8 million ovulation kits were sold last year just in CVS and Walgreen drug stores, indicating the number of potential customers who could be interested in the device should it receive clearance for over-the-counter sales.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928. or anixon@tribweb.com.

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