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Pursuit Vascular, a Maple Grove company whose small venous-access caps can make a big difference in warding off devastating infections, is being acquired by a California-based maker of medical infusion systems.

ICU Medical, in Orange County, struck a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Pursuit Vascular for $75 million in upfront cash, plus an additional "earnout payment" of undisclosed size in 2021, the companies announced Monday.

Pursuit Vascular is a 20-employee company on pace to take in revenue of $10 million to $12 million in 2019 for its signature product, the ClearGuard HD cap. The caps are used to kill bacteria and fungi inside implanted catheters that patients use on a long-term basis for easy access to their bloodstream, by applying a common antimicrobial chemical called chlorhexidine to the catheters.

The red and blue caps got clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2013 for hemodialysis catheters, which are used by some patients who have kidney failure and need to have their blood cleaned regularly by machines outside the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said hemodialysis catheters are linked to tens of thousands of bloodstream infections per year, leading to widespread patient harm and $600 million in annual costs.

In 2018, the company got additional FDA clearance to prevent central-line associated bloodstream infections in hemodialysis patients who use central venous catheters, which are used in less than 20% of dialysis procedures in the U.S., yet cause 70% of vascular access-related bloodstream infections.

The expanded indication was based on the results of a clinical trial that randomized 1,671 hemodialysis patients at DaVita clinics to use either ClearGuard HD caps, or the Curos Disinfecting Cap made by 3M Health Care. The study found the infection rate was 0.28 per 1,000 patient days in the ClearGuard group, vs. 0.75 per 1,000 days in the Curos group.

ICU Medical sells products used in IV infusion therapy, including pumps, catheters and related supplies. The company has plans to expand the use of ClearGuard caps to "adjacent" markets beyond hemodialysis patients, though a spokesman declined to elaborate Monday.

"We really aren't in a position to discuss them today, but we do believe that the technology has applicability outside the hemodialysis market and by combining ICU Medical's proven R & D resources with those at Pursuit, we'll be able realize those opportunities faster," spokesman Tom McCall said via e-mail.

It's not clear how the acquisition will affect Pursuit Vascular's Maple Grove workforce. "While we do expect some functions to be impacted by the acquisition, we will be transparent with everyone affected as decisions are made. We will ensure all employees are informed as integration plans are made and will provide all impacted employees with notice before roles changing or moving," McCall said.

Joe Carlson • 612-673-4779