A bout three million people die from complications due to obesity annually. Obesity is a growing global health concern, as rates of obesity increase in countries across the world. Individuals with a body mass index (“BMI”) between 25 and 30 are categorised as overweight. Individuals with a BMI over 30 are categorized as obese. Weight loss solutions can include supplements, bariatric surgery, apps for weight tracking, and more. Patients spend a lot of time and money to find the most effective weight loss solutions. Unsuccessful attempts to find the right solution can be discouraging for patients.
Allurion developed a comprehensive weight loss solution that combines a revolutionary medical device, cutting-edge digital therapeutic, and a behavior change program. The Allurion® Balloon is the world’s first and only procedureless weight loss device. Over seventy thousand people around the world have been treated by Allurion. On average, patients lose between 10 – 15% of their body weight in just 4 months, and 95% weight maintenance at one year. Allurion is helping weight loss patients lose weight, and keep it off, worldwide.
In an exclusive interview with Insights Success, Allurion’s SVP of Global Operations and R&D, Chris Robinson, discussed the innovative manufacturing methods that Allurion.
Below are some excerpts from the interview:
Please brief our audience about your company. Kindly tell us the source of inspiration for starting a medical and surgical implant manufacturing company.
Allurion was founded in 2009 by Shantanu Gaur and Samuel (“Sammy”) Levy, two students at Harvard Medical School. From day one, the company has been dedicated to ending obesity by creating the world’s first comprehensive, full-stack weight loss platform to serve the entire spectrum of patients struggling to lose weight.
While at Harvard Medical School, Shantanu and Sammy were exposed to the full breadth of the obesity epidemic, ranging from its negative impact on patients to the burden it places on the entire healthcare system. With two billion people around the world struggling to lose weight and an entire generation of children and adolescents on the same path, it was clear that only a bold and audacious approach was going to address the issue.
At the heart of the Allurion platform is the Allurion Balloon—a revolutionary, “procedureless” device that is swallowed and filled in a 15-minute office visit without any surgery, endoscopy, or anaesthesia. While the balloon is technically an implant, it is delivered via swallowing and is naturally excreted four months later.
What USPs and innovative manufacturing methods make your company’s products stand out from the competition?
The Allurion Balloon is delivered in just a 15-minute office visit through natural swallowing. The balloon comes in a capsule and is attached to a very thin catheter that is used for filling. Once the filling is complete, the catheter is removed by simply pulling back. The balloon resides in the stomach, occupying space to help patients feel full, eat less, and lose weight. After approximately four months, the balloon opens on its own, empties, and passes out of the body. During this period, patients lose 10–15% of their total body weight on average.
The Allurion Balloon is made from a polyurethane film designed to withstand the stomach’s harsh environment. However, the film is incredibly thin, allowing the balloon to be folded inside a capsule. In addition, the valves used for filling and emptying are made from a similarly thin film, ensuring there are no rigid parts on the balloon that could damage the stomach lining during residence or the intestines during balloon passage.
The swallowing and self-emptying features of the balloon enable it to be administered without any surgery, endoscopy, or anesthesia, which significantly increases the market opportunity. The Allurion Balloon is covered by over 50 patents around the world.
Expand on your company’s contribution to advancing the medical and surgical implant manufacturing industry.
Allurion has contributed to advancing the medical and surgical implant manufacturing industry through a combination of investing in cutting-edge innovation and demonstrating a strong commitment to training the next generation of engineers.
Allurion has developed several innovative manufacturing processes that have borrowed from—and in some cases, led to—advancements in the fields of polymer chemistry, plastics engineering, and material science. Collectively, these innovations have led to a balloon that has raised the bar on performance and patient safety.
As Allurion continues to rapidly grow and expand, the company continues to invest in training and acquiring top talent. Allurion regularly hosts interns and co-ops in its manufacturing engineering team and is proud of the internal opportunities for growth and advancement it offers to its current employees. These efforts collectively help train and develop the next generation of engineers and innovators.
What is your opinion on the necessity for healthcare manufacturing companies to align their offerings with the latest technological advances, especially when it comes to catering to ever-evolving healthcare needs?
Healthcare manufacturing is the backbone of the medical device industry. Healthcare is rapidly evolving and changing, and innovation would stall without a similarly dynamic manufacturing industry. Billions of people around the world depend on healthcare manufacturing to decrease the burden of disease and enhance the quality and quantity of life. Allurion is proud to be part of this ecosystem.
In your opinion, what are the existing challenges in the medical and surgical implant manufacturing industry? And how are you strategizing your company’s operations to tackle them?
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in the medical and surgical implant industry. Supply chain shortages have created a need for consistent tracking and development of mitigation plans. Our teams are working with partners in over 50 countries to ensure the product is available when needed while investing in safety stocks and new partner development.
As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the healthcare manufacturing business?
In today’s environment, you must balance immediate supply chain and process challenges with creating the foundation for long-term process improvements that improve quality and reduce opportunities for failure.
Every customer must receive a high-quality device, and that can be best accomplished through authentic communication, accountability, and setting audacious goals for every part of the manufacturing process.
How do you envision scaling your company’s services in 2022 and beyond?
In 2022 and beyond, we will continue to rapidly scale up manufacturing to support the unprecedented demand for the Allurion platform around the world. We have doubled our manufacturing capacity year-over-year for the past five years and expect that trend to continue in the years to come. In addition, we have several exciting projects in the balloon R&D pipeline and our digital product pipeline that we are planning to bring to market in 2023 and beyond.
Awards and Recognition
Allurion was named in the Financial Times list of “The Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies 2022”
Recognized as one of Fierce Medical Device’s Fierce 15
Named one of BostInno’s 50 on Fire.