Ohio companies shooting for the stars

Had a chance to talk with Governor Taft yesterday after he appeared and touted Ohio as a biomed hotspot at the Mid-America Venture Forum. He indicated that some of the nation’s very large health care funds from outside the state have opened chapters in Ohio including Draper, Charter Life Sciences, Oakwood Medical.

He commented on several highly successful bioscience firms that started and are staying in Ohio. AxioMed Spine Corp. is making next generation artificial disks for degenerative lower back disease. “They got their earliest funding from Third Frontier funds,” he said. “Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based seed capital firm, got them off the ground in their partnerhips with the Cleveland Clinic. And now they’re pulling in more traditional venture funding from west coast–doing clinical trials in Europe now, and planning them next year in U.S. This kind of support they’ve received has resulted in getting them very close to getting a viable biomed product to market that’s manufactured in Ohio.”

Two other companies the Governor visited were Lifeline Screening and MemberHealth. Lifeline Screening makes mobile testing units in vans that can test for osteoporosis and other conditions and can help people who otherwise wouldn’t get screened. Founded in 1992 and currently in 48 states and Canada, it employes 200. They also give ultrasound screenings to detect signs of stroke and heart disease–an innovative and cost-effective approach to preventive medicine. “It’s a very successful Northeast Ohio startup,” said the Governor, “and it’s just continuing to grow.”

MemberHealth facilitates financial and prescription drug benefit programs between pharmacies and customers. It works closely with its clients and drug manufacturers to create consumer-driven formularies. National pharmacy benefit management–it’s the newest $1 billion Ohio company and has 500 employees. They successfully competed to be chosen to administer Medicare Part D on behalf of about a million Medicare beneficiaries. Part of that success was because they partnered with a State of Ohio program-—the Golden Buckeye discount card. They run that program, which has resulted in savings about $17M savings in drug benefits.

Ohio’s giving North Carolina and Minnesota a good run for the money.