Today marks the start of the conference sessions at MD&M East, the East Coast's largest show for medical device design and manufacturing. Most of the MD&DI staff is attending. Today's sessions will impart crucial information on such topics as nanotechnology and combination products. The Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday sessions will be equally vital, and we would be remiss if we did not mention that Wednesday's session on collaborative outsourcing will be chaired by MD&DI Editor-in-Chief Erik Swain. Wednesday also will feature the Medical Design Excellence Awards ceremony. The exhibit hall opens tomorrow and runs through Thursday.  
June 11th, 2007
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Tyco International Ltd.'s board and the Securities and Exchange Commission have approved the company's plan to spin off its healthcare and electronics units, reports Bloomberg News. As previously reported, the healthcare unit will be renamed Covidien. Shareholders will get one share of Covidien and one share of Tyco Electronics for every four shares of Tyco International stock they own. Will a name change restore Tyco's public image? Judging from comments to previous items on this blog, it will be tough.
June 8th, 2007
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The private equity consortium in line to buy orthopedics player Biomet Inc. has increased its bid by 4.5% to $11.4 billion, reports the Associated Press. This comes after an independent proxy adviser recommended that shareholders reject the consortium's $10.9 billion offer, on the grounds that the firm's value has increased since the offer was accepted in December. The firm is recommending that shareholders approve the new offer.
June 7th, 2007
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The Bush Administration wants to revamp the nation's patent system by requiring better information from applicants and allowing the public to review pending applications, Jon Dudas, the director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, told Congress and the New York Times. Patent reform would have a major impact on the device industry, which derives much of its value from intellectual property. Both houses of Congress are considering patent reform legislation. The Bush Administration wants to reduce patent-related litigation and has several proposals to that end. One would standardize what supporting information is needed in an application. Another would require applicants to do a thorough search of related patents and technical journals. Dudas wants language that would make the requirements not too burdensome for small inventors, and implied that his office might be willing to do patent...
June 7th, 2007
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Transforming FDA LogoFDA this week announced the formation of a 15-member committee to advise it on how to improve communication regarding risks and benefits of medical devices and other products the agency regulates. The committee is based on a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine. There's no question that the agency needs to do a better job in this regard. The public has mistakenly come to understand that a product with FDA approval should have zero risk. This perception is part of why the agency has taken such heat over products that have proven too risky after approval. The question is whether the goal of clear, concise, consistent, and contextual communication can be achieved by a committee...
June 6th, 2007
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Transforming FDA LogoDr. Steven Nissen, head of the Cleveland Clinic's department of cardiovascular medicine, has made a name for himself as an FDA watchdog in recent years. He was one of the first to raise alarms about safety issues for Vioxx and drug-eluting stents. Today's Boston Globe has an interesting read on why Nissen has become such a prominent voice. His critics say it's because he's angling to become the next FDA commissioner. (Beltway insiders expect Andrew von Eschenbach, a friend of the Bush family, to step down when President Bush leaves office.) His critics seem to fear...
June 5th, 2007
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Today's Boston Globe has a piece about the rise of Inverness Medical Innovations, Inc. (Waltham, MA), which has made an incredible eight acquisitions so far this year, including yesterday's puchase of Cholestech Corp. for $326 million. Inverness is, among other things, the market leader in home pregnancy tests. (Cholestech's products measure cholesterol and other signs of heart disease.) As part of the drive to keep medical costs down, inexpensive point-of-care tests such as those made by Inverness can be a powerful tool. As demand for these tests rises, expect Inverness to become even more of a force.
June 5th, 2007
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Not according to some analysts. However, companies in recent years have embarked on efforts to educate consumers about options that could enhance their health (and more obviously, help promote their product). For example, Zimmer has placed ads about its Gender Knee implant on TV, in newspapers, and has even been spotted on MySpace, a social networking site. Medtronic Inc. also unleashed a $100-million ad campaign for its defibrillator product six months ago. While analysts are pointing out the effects of ads can't necessarily be immediately seen, a Medtronic spokesman has said the company has received positive feedback from patients and doctors, and that the number of responses has "exceeded" their expectations.
June 4th, 2007
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More than two years after the notorious defibrillator recall, companies continue to experience the lingering effects. After a decrease in defibrillator implants in 2006, Medtronic Inc. announced yesterday that it will be cutting between 350 and 500 jobs in its cardiac rhythm division. According to the Star Tribune, the job cuts will be nationwide, but employees were also be given the chance to either transfer to other parts of the company, retire early, or accept voluntary buyout packages. While Guidant Corp. was mainly responsible for the highly publicized defibrillator recall, Medtronic pulled 87,000 of its devices off the market in February 2005.
June 1st, 2007
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A federal judge refused to grant Shelhigh Inc.'s request that the government release the tissue-based devices it seized last month because of concerns about sterility. Judge William Martini said he could not rule whether Shelhigh's devices met GMP standards without holding a hearing, reports the Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ. He said that hearing will come as soon as possible. Shelhigh executives say the company's future is in jeopardy if it cannot export the seized devices. The judge urged both sides to try to reach a settlement, using a mediator if possible. But, as we predicted, Shelhigh has hired Larry Pilot to help in its defense. Companies who seek out Pilot often do so because he is willing to take on FDA in court. Shelhigh also rejected FDA's request to recall devices it already shipped to hospitals. That's not an indicator of being willing to settle, either.  
May 31st, 2007
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