Russell Mably

European Director – Marketing, Biomet Europe

Q: Is your position a newly created role?

A: Yes. To understand why this has been done, one needs to be aware of the past operational style of Biomet. Biomet has always been a decentralised entrepreneurial organisation, which has allowed us to react better to needs of our local customer’s and has engendered a creative and responsive work style. The thing is, Biomet has become a very big company, and with the marketplace continually evolving, we have identified the need to align ourselves more to the market and our customers. The end result is a centrally coordinated European marketing structure.

Q: So what were you doing before this role was created?

A: I was the ‘Divisional Marketing Manager’ with a major focus on the Biomet Hip portfolio, based in UK. I managed a very experienced team of International Product Managers, and worked closely with Development Teams in the UK and USA. We, as a team, were responsible for marketing all UK manufactured hip brands worldwide. The main challenge was to rationalise and refine Biomet’s superb range of cementless THR designs, as well as identify future growth segments within the market, and develop new products to address these needs.

Q: How do you perceive the orthopaedic marketplace is changing?

A: To give you a full answer would take a lot more space than we have here! The market place is commoditising due to a combination of factors. Political and economic pressures are driving our customers into viewing product offerings as ‘all the same’. In price negotiations, we are told that; if a company’s product is ‘fit for purpose’ then that is good enough. If we accept this, then price and service become the sole criteria for product purchase.

Q: Given the financial constraints on our health services, surely this is reasonable?

A: There are a number of ways to look at this. The term ‘Fit for Purpose’ maybe more suitable when discussing the relevant benefits of digital cameras as an example. Either a camera delivers a good enough resolution for the size of print a photographer wants, or it does not. When we are talking about a Total Hip Replacement the criteria are very different. At Biomet we will never lose sight of the fact that the final customer is the patient. In partnership with the surgeon, we want to provide the patient the best possible chance of their implant lasting a lifetime, with the least amount of trauma and the best possible functional outcome. This is our belief. We will, therefore, always strive to improve and reduce the chances of a patient having to undergo revision surgery.
We like to think of not ‘Fit for Purpose’ but ‘Best for Purpose’ as this gives us the determination to constantly improve our products.

Q: Give us an example of what you mean?

A: Something I have been very proud of is the introduction of the Exceed ABT™ acetabular shell system as part of our Advanced Bearing Technologies™ Programme. The use of cementless components in THR is increasing. There are many factors contributing to this, including the growing weight of clinical evidence demonstrating cementless stems and acetabular components performing better than more established technologies in the younger patient age group. We wanted to give the surgeon a logical ‘Total System Approach’ to implants that he can titrate to the individual patient. We fed into the design of the Exceed ABT™ an increased degree of ‘Indestructibility’ and we promote the system alongside our Rapid Recovery™ protocols that are aimed at reducing the trauma of the operation, accelerated rehabilitation and enhancing patient well-being.

Q: How have you achieved this?

A: With teamwork. The surgeon designers and the engineers have increased the safety margins by including low wear bearing materials such as third generation toughened alumina ceramic, E-Poly™ & ArcomXL™ our highly cross linked polyethylene’s, and M2a™ metal on metal systems utilising clinically proven metallurgy. These bearings have been coupled with acetabular components that have been designed specifically for each bearing material. Keep in mind that components for polyethylene, ceramic and metal bearings behave differently on insertion, and so as a result require different mechanical solutions. A jack of all trades and a master of none, is not a great place to be in Orthopaedics.
The Exceed ABT™ with its patented 15-degree inclined bearing helps reduce the incidence of “Rim Loading” and improves head coverage. We all know the consequences of mal positioned implants, especially when using ceramic and metal bearings. We then married the 15-degree shell and Advanced Bearing Technologies™ with our clinically proven Taperloc™ and Bi-Metric™ cementless stems, with their wide range of articulation diameters, producing a comprehensive and coherent system.
We are encouraged to be creative when working alongside designing surgeons. One problem-solving example springs to mind; a method for positioning the femoral resurfacing component guide pin in hip resurfacing. Mr Kesh Singhal from the Princess of Wales Hospital approached Biomet with an idea to develop a device that could repeatedly locate a guide wire in the centre of the femoral neck without increasing surgery time, eliminating the need for navigation. By responding to this opportunity we developed the ReCap® KS Alignment Device which is now used worldwide to great acclaim.
Hospital management, nursing staff and surgeons are now working with us introducing the ground breaking Rapid Recovery™ protocols in an attempt to improve patient recovery times and patient throughput. This program will yield significant cost savings to those hospitals working in partnership with us. When combined with our Orthopaedic Skills Foundation™ medical education initiatives, we have a true all round package.

Q: So what does the future hold?

A: We at Biomet are well positioned to evolve alongside the changing Orthopaedic market. We will move forward without losing the entrepreneurial flair that has served us so well in the past. We will continue to put the patient first and work in partnership with health care professionals.