Allergan buys UK firm behind ear correction device earFold

Protruding ears thought to affect roughly 1-2% of population – about 100 million people

Pharmaceutical and aesthetics company Allergan, headquartered in Ireland, has entered into an agreement to buy Northwood Medical Innovation Ltd, a company that produces medical devices to correct prominent ears.

Northwood’s earFold medical device is designed for those aged seven and over who want to change the appearance of prominent ears or ears with asymmetry. It is a small nitinol metal alloy device that is inserted under the skin in the ear and is designed to lend a more subtle shape to the ear. In a study of more than 400 patients undergoing earFold, on average patients saw a 34% reduction in the helical-mastoid distance post-procedure – the distance from the outer rim of the ear to the side of the head.

Compared with other procedures available on the market, such as otoplasty or pinnaplasty, earFold only requires a local anaesthetic and down-time post treatment is minimal with each procedure typically taking just 15-20 minutes. Currently, earFold is available via plastic surgeons, otolaryngologists and maxillo-facial surgeons.

Paul Navarre, President and EVP of International Brands at Allergan, said: “Allergan is constantly searching to partner with or acquire companies with disruptive technologies that offer substantive value to our customers, often opening up new categories or setting new trends within our specialist segments. An example of this is the strategic acquisition of Kythera, with Kybella (marketed as Belkyra in Canada) (deoxycholic acid) injection, the only FDA approved non-surgical pharmaceutical treatment for reduction of submental fat, or double chins.”

Allergan revealed plans to commercialise earFold across Europe following the acquisition. It also has ambitions to explore the possibility of bringing the product to other countries including the US.

Navarre added: “earFold technology adds another innovative product to our medical aesthetics product portfolio, especially for the plastic surgeons we serve today, and has the potential to expand the number of patients interested in corrective surgery as it provides an alternative treatment that may appeal to those who have been reluctant to undergo traditional surgical procedures. Many of Allergan’s plastic surgery customers currently perform otoplasty procedures, emphasising our commitment to serving the unmet needs and practice of plastic surgery.”

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