Patrick Pennie has been around blood for most of his career. He started out in 1987 as a critical-care, open-heart licensed registered nurse, then transitioned to working as a certified clinical perfusionist operating the heart-lung machine during open-heart surgery.
“Having that background, I became very familiar with blood and blood products and what the different components of blood can do,” he says.
That led him to years of research and development in the regenerative medicine field and his venture as president and CEO of Fort Myers–based EmCyte, a medical manufacturing company that produces devices used for extracting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell biologics.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is an emerging treatment method used in medical fields such as sports medicine, orthopedics and chronic wound care aimed at helping the body heal itself faster. After blood is drawn from a patient, the platelets are separated from other blood cells and run through a centrifuge to increase their concentration. Then they’re injected into the patient’s injured or diseased tissue to stimulate healing. Athletes like Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant have used PRP to recover from injuries.
EmCyte’s products help health care professionals extract and concentrate PRP. The company works with doctors, health care systems and military medical operations around the country and in Canada, South America, Europe and Australia.
Since the company’s founding in 2008, EmCyte has seen 15% to 20% revenue growth over the last 10 years and is currently doing about $30 to $40 million in distributions around the world, according to Pennie.
“A lot of this growth can be attributed to market awareness,” he says. “We’ve done our homework in building awareness in the market about PRP and how it can improve patients’ lives and outcomes.”
Educating both medical professionals and patients about PRP is vital to the company’s success. That’s why it recently launched Gulf
Coast Biologics, a non- profit regenerative medicine training organization where physicians can take courses to learn more about treatments like PRP. “We’re committed to education, and we do this so physicians can really understand the science of PRP,” says Pennie.
A focus on quality and outcomes also helps set EmCyte apart from competitors. In evaluations done by independent research groups like BioSciences Research Associates, EmCyte’s devices have outperformed others on the market.
“We’ve been able to position ourselves so that our quality stands above everything else,” says Pennie. “Our products produce the highest concentrations of growth factors than
any other product on the market, and physicians have great outcomes with patients using our products. And that word-of-mouth and clinical experience have also been driving growth.”
The company’s 40 employees operate out of a 30,000-square-foot facility with state-of-the-art clean rooms where the devices are manufactured. They’re also packed, warehoused and shipped at the same site. “We’ve been able to secure a good property for us in Fort Myers where we can build and grow,” says Pennie.
EmCyte recently introduced a new product for collecting bone marrow that produces better samples for use in regenerative medicine treatments.
It’s also released new, simplified versions of its PRP systems.
Though Pennie has been researching and developing in this field for years, he realizes others don’t have the same familiarity he does. “It’s still considered a young industry,” he says. “Even though it’s become more mainstream in the last seven to eight years, it’s still kind of all-over-the-place as far as knowledge and education regarding PRP. So we’re going to continue with our efforts on education. We’re not in it for retail; we’re in it to really make a difference in patients’ outcomes.”