|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2013)|
Biox is an American medical technology company founded in 1979 known for the development of the first widely used pulse oximeter. Michael Hickey, Scott Wilber, and Bill Moe founded Biox Technology in 1979. Mr. Hickey served as the company's CEO, Mr. Wilber was the company's Chief Engineer and Scientist, and Mr. Moe was the company's Executive Vice President. Enervest, a Denver-based venture fund, funded the company.
Mr. Wilber invented the company's technology and developed the first oximeter patent. This patent provided the company with proprietary protection for almost two decades. Mr. Wilber's novel development of a "normalization circuitry" proved to be a significant, long-lasting innovation that began a modern era in pulse oximetry.
Mr. Wilber led the company's product development for the Biox II product line, the Biox IIa product line, and the Biox III product line. He also led the development of the first team of pulse oximeter engineers. This team later developed the Ohmeda Biox 3700 which became a standard of care product in the anesthesia market in the mid-1980s. Because the pulse oximeter is now used in almost all areas of hospital care and related fields, Mr. Wilber's invention is recognized as one of the ten most valuable medical devices of the 20th century.
The first commercially available oximeters were produced by Hewlett-Packard, and were large, cumbersome, and expensive. These devices were of limited value because they were largely focused on research in the respiratory care field. Biox introduced the first pulse oximeter to commercial distribution in 1980 (The FDA 510(k) is here). Initially, the company focused its marketing on the respiratory care market. Under the leadership of Mr. Bill Evans, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, the company established a national, independent distribution network market of respiratory care physcians.
Unbeknownst to the company, the pulse oximeter was also being used to monitor oxygen deprivation in patients under anesthesia in operating rooms. Reports of this life-saving application reached the company's management in late 1982, and the company began to focus time and resources in developing operating room applications to help anesthesiologists monitor oxygenation levels in patients on the operating table. In order to best penetrate the operating room market, the company needed to increase its marketing assets in the anesthesia segment of the hospital market. The company also began to experience competition in the anesthesia market from a new entry into the field, Nellcor. In order to enter the anesthesia market and to mitigate competitive pressures, the company retained Kidder Peabody to assist it in developing a strategic alliance with large corporations in the medical field. As a result of this effort, the BOC Group purchased Biox Technology in the summer of 1984. The company became a business unit of BOC's Medical Group, Ohmeda. The product was renamed the Ohmeda Biox 3700.
At the time of acquisition, Mr. Hickey, Mr. Moe, and Mr. Evans stayed on with the company as managers of the business unit. At that time, Mr. Wilber left the corporation. Under BOC guidance, the pulse oximeter market expanded significantly. The Ohmeda business unit remains in Boulder, Colorado as a significant medical device manufacturer. It is currently under the ownership of General Electric.