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Health tech company reaps rewards of radical shift

Apyx Medical Corp. took a big risk in 2019, when it sold off several core products to focus on a single innovative, yet unproven, technology. After some delays and setbacks, the future is now.


  • By Brian Hartz
  • | 5:00 a.m. April 11, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Charlie Goodwin was named president and CEO of Apyx Medical Corp. in 2017 and has steered the company, formerly known as Bovie Medical Corp., through a total reinvention.
Charlie Goodwin was named president and CEO of Apyx Medical Corp. in 2017 and has steered the company, formerly known as Bovie Medical Corp., through a total reinvention.
Photo by Mark Wemple
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Five years ago, the newly minted Apyx Medical Corp., which had been known, since its founding in 1982, as Bovie Medical Corp., had decided to drastically change the identity and direction of the company. Not only did the Clearwater-based medical technology firm change its name, but it also sold the rights to several of its core products, for $97 million, to Antioch, Tennessee-based based Symmetry Surgical.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” Apyx President and CEO Charlie Goodwin says. “We’ve completely transformed Apyx into an aesthetics company.”

Goodwin came aboard in December 2017; at that time, the publicly traded company (NASDAQ: APYXwas known more for making surgical devices. Today, it’s celebrating the launch of Renuvion, a body contouring technology used to tighten a person’s skin after they’ve had a liposuction procedure, or to remedy saggy skin that occurs naturally as part of the aging process.

“Before, there was nothing that would reliably contract the soft tissue after liposuction, and that contraction of soft tissue is what leads to the skin tightening that you see,” Goodwin says. “And so, that’s what’s resonating with both the patient and the doctor. The doctor’s work, the work that they do for liposuction, is highlighted and enhanced.”

Apyx’s “incredible journey,” however, has been fraught with challenges. For one, the company has posted at least four years of losses, totaling more than $75 million, even as revenue, overall, have climbed significantly. And more specifically, the pandemic was another obstacle. Apyx essentially had to shut down for three months, a loss of precious research and development time.

We think that, as a company, we will play a tremendous role in society by helping people feel better about themselves." –Apyx Medical Corp. President and CEO Charlie Goodwin

Then, in March 2022, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a safety notice regarding Renuvion in response to self-reported adverse events that could have been caused by the technology. Goodwin says medical device reporting (MDR) is an important part of Apyx’s way of doing business because although it’s transitioned to an aesthetics company, it still operates like a medical device maker, with an emphasis on science and safety.

“In 2020, we had 15 adverse events,” he says. “In 2021, we had 32. The FDA issued what they call a safety warning. But what they didn’t know was that in 2020, we sold 38,000 devices. And in 2021, we sold 84,000 devices. So, the device sales more than doubled. But the adverse event rate stayed the same at .0004, which is extremely low.”

With the percentage of Renuvion-related adverse events plummeting, Apyx, Goodwin adds, expects to have concerns associated with the FDA’s safety notice completely resolved by mid-2023. “It’s part and parcel of moving from a surgical company to an aesthetics company,” he says.

The safety notice hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for Renuvion. The minimally invasive procedure, which is performed under general anesthesia in about an hour, has been met with high praise. Actress McKenzie Westmore, 45, best known for her role on Passions, a soap opera, credited Apyx’s signature product in a People magazine article about her recovery from the negative effects of facial fillers.

“I feel healthier,” Westmore says in the article. “I feel vibrant; I feel like I have a new lease on life.”

Procedures involving Renuvion have also been featured on Awake Surgery, a reality TV series that airs on TLC, and The Balancing Act on Lifetime. To reach even more potential customers, Apyx has launched a Renuvion marketing campaign, using the hashtag #ThisIsMe, that includes national digital advertising, social media and a redesigned website with content targeted more toward patients instead of medical professionals.

Goodwin says the messaging around Renuvion will emphasize self-confidence as opposed to focusing merely on physical beauty.

“Improvement in self-confidence is overlooked as far as how important that is to someone’s mental health,” he says. “We think that, as a company, we will play a tremendous role in society by helping people feel better about themselves.”

He adds, “We love the uniqueness of everybody. But we also appreciate that everybody wants to be the best they can possibly be. And that’s what this technology and this brand is going to be about. The thing that I like most about our campaign is that it’s not about the outside procedure — it’s about how the procedure makes you feel better on the inside.”

Apyx’s revenue has been on the rise but profits have yet to materialize. (It lost $23.56 million in 2022, against $45.21 million in revenue, according to public filings.) Without making specific predictions, Goodwin says the company — which has 275 employees split between Clearwater and Sofia, Bulgaria — wants to achieve profitability “as quickly as we possibly can … it’s a huge priority for us. Then we can stop having conversations about our balance sheet and focus on all the things we’re doing to move forward.”

 

author

Brian Hartz

Brian Hartz holds a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and has been a St. Petersburg resident since 2013. He has also worked for newspapers and magazines in Indiana, Canada and New Zealand.

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