Medical devices aren't stereotypically the subject of Hollywood-style heists, but apparently some thieves didn't get the memo; the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal is reporting that Boston Scientific had a shipment of medical devices stolen while they were on the way to a sterilization facility in April. The pilfered devices, which includes endoscopy, urology, and women's health devices, are labeled as "sterile," but because they never reached the sterilization facility, they have not, in fact, been sterilized. The company is warning that the stolen devices could, if they end up being used, subsequently lead to infections and other complications.

FDA has posted a release with detailed label information about the stolen devices here. From the release:

Anyone who has information regarding this incident or has received suspicious or unsolicited offers for the devices identified above, after the date of the theft, is encouraged to...

May 4th, 2011
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The global orthopedics industry has an annual growth rate of about 5% to 7% and approached $30 billion in 2010, says Orthopedics Review and Outlook 2011, a report from PharmaLive. The report says that one of the fastest-growing areas within the global orthopedics market is extremity hardware devices that replace or reconstruct joints and bones in the foot, ankle, hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
 

Key segments driving sales growth and attracting investor interest in the global orthopedic device sector include artificial joints, spinal implants and orthobiologics. The joint reconstruction market will remain the largest orthopedic implant category and is expected to reach $22.9 billion by 2016. The global orthopedic implants market is expected to top $41 billion by 2016.
Biodegradable medical implants represent one of the fastest-growing areas in the global orthopedics market. Biomaterials are used in...

May 4th, 2011
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Researchers from Missouri University of Science and Technology are developing a material that can slow bleeding, protect against infection, and support the healing process. Composed of a novel borate glass nanofiber, the material is absorbed by surrounding tissue. The new material also seems to help minimize scarring.
 
The glass fiber, which looks something like cotton candy, showed promising results in a recent clinical trial. A number of the patients in the trial were diabetics with persistent wounds. One of the patients had the same wound for three years. The use of the new material enabled their skin either to heal completely or to improve.
 
The novel material was developed by Mo-Sci Corp., which manufactures a number of glass-based materials for medical applications. While a number of “bio-glass...

May 3rd, 2011
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The former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has entered the medical device policy fray. He says Medicare and Medicaid funded hospitals are paying top dollar for devices such as implants because there is no transparency in the pricing structure. "

"This practice is contributing to the insolvency of Medicare and Medicaid and must stop," writes Gingrich. "The American people should be able to see where the majority of their taxpayer dollars are going and which companies are benefiting."

As an example, Gingrich points to the average hip-replacement procedure (both the hospital stay and the device), which can cost about $50,000. He says that Medicare and Medicaid traditionally wind up paying 70% of that hip replacement, according to a report "...

May 3rd, 2011
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Healthcare reform initiated by the Chinese government in 2009 has spawned a booming market for medical technology in China. The country’s medical market recorded a stunning 23% growth rate in 2010, according to Pharmnet.com. The medtech market, which is currently valued at more than 100 billion RMB, is forecast to double in value over the next five years, according to analysts cited by Pharmnet.com, and the high-end medical equipment sector, which includes CT and MRI equipment, is expected to benefit enormously from surging demand. Some manufacturers in China fear that this will disproportionately benefit multinational corporations, which have an approximate 80% market share of high-end medical equipment sales in China. Developers and manufacturers of home-grown systems want to change that...

May 3rd, 2011
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 Here's a fun read as we head into the weekend: Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow has a column in Make magazine in which he waxes philosophic about the breakneck speed of our advancing technology, and  how "giddy" it makes him feel to contemplate how quickly some of the formerly state-of-the-art gadgets he keeps around his office have been left in the dust.

Doctorow recounts a discussion he had with a friend in the 1990s, in which they imagined the prospect of one day having access to 1 TB of RAM. As he writes:

And we started to laugh. This substance that cost more than its weight in gold — that solved all our problems — sometime in our lifetimes would be so cheap and abundant that we would have literally unimaginable amounts of it. 

The piece is definitely worth a read, as is the rest of the content on ...

April 29th, 2011
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 Oh, robots. What can't they do? When they're not vacuuming our floors or creepily impersonating our pets, they're delicately cutting tumors off of our larynxes. 

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic were able to use robotic surgery to successfully treat supraglottic squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that settles in above the vocal cords in a way that's traditionally been tricky to reach. A study of the procedure demonstrated that it was effective in removing the cancer.

Of course, the robot isn't actually removing the cancer on its own; a surgeon still has to operate it.

From the press release:

...the robotic arms that enter the mouth include a thin camera, an arm with a cautery or laser, and an arm with a gripping tool to retract and grasp tissue. The surgeon sits at a console, controlling the instruments and viewing the three-dimensional surgical field on a screen.

Doctors are optimistic that robotic surgery...

April 29th, 2011
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Serial entrepreneur, inventor, and philanthropist Alfred Mann has become something of a legend in the medical device industry. So it’s only fitting that on June 8, Mann will the recipient of the MDEA Lifetime Achievement Award. “I’m really honored to receive this award,” Mann says. “Over my career, I’ve received a number of awards but this one is especially important,” he adds.

Mann, who at 85 years old still spends 70–80 hours per week at work, was selected by the MD+DI editorial advisory board and UBM content team because of his storied career in the life sciences industry. In all, he has dedicated the past 42 years of his career to developing new medical technologies.

He initially got involved in the medical device space after...

April 28th, 2011
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I have to admit, I'm surprised. J&J is set to buy Swiss medical devices maker Synthes Inc. for $21.6 billion in its largest buy ever.

The announcement came on April 27, 2011, after much speculation about the two companies in talks. The deal gives J&J a lead postion in orthopedics and once it is complete, Synthes and DePuy will make up the largest business within the medical devices and diagnostics unit of J&J.

The acquisition is backing of Hansjoerg Wyss, who holds 40% of Synthes directly and another 8% through family trusts. The former chair of the company could soon be worth $7.9 billion with the close of the deal.

For all the rumours, I didn't really think this one would fly. But the acquisition won't close until the first half of 2012, so there is...

April 27th, 2011
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Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed an inexpensive test for acute pancreatitis using gelatin, milk protein, aluminum foil, a 12-cent LED light, and a sensor that could be produced for as little as dollar. “We’ve turned Reynold’s Wrap, JELL-O, and milk into a way to look for organ failure,” explains grad student Brian Zaccheo, who worked on the project.
 
Self-powered pancreatis sensorRoughly the size of a matchbox, the sensor using a two-step method for diagnosing pancreatitis. First off, a small amount of blood is exposed to a thin layer of gelatin and milk protein. In the case that there is a high amount of trypsin, which could be indicative of pancreatitis, the gelatin breaks down. In the second step, a small amount of lye is...
April 26th, 2011
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