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Good Bush, Bad Bush

Originally Published MPMN May 2001

EDITOR'S PAGE

Good Bush, Bad Bush

I encountered the bad Bush in Avignon, France. I spent a week at this charming medieval town in the south of France in March to attend the International Meeting on Radiation Processing. (In case you're interested, my conference notes can be accessed in the Reporter's Notebook at www.devicelink.com/emdm). That was the week that President Bush announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Kyoto protocol on climate change, prompting a storm of outrage across the continent.

Selfish, irresponsible, and unconscionable were the most-common adjectives that streamed across the editorial pages of European newspapers. On the street, the comments were more colorful, but equally damning. "The United States is by far the world's biggest polluter," I was told on more than one occasion. "Don't you think your country has a moral obligation to contribute to a global solution to this problem?" Other than a sarcastic remark about how Texans tend to think that bigger is always better, I couldn't really come up with a proper riposte.

The good Bush was waiting for me back in my office. As I sifted through the e-mails that had stacked up in my absence, I noticed a press release from AdvaMed effusively praising the president. The adulation was prompted by the administration's 2002 budget, which illustrates the president's "commitment to improving the quality of healthcare in America," enthused AdvaMed president Pamela G. Bailey. "It focuses on many areas such as Medicare modernization and increased funding for FDA's device center that play important roles in getting innovative medical technologies to patients," she was quoted as saying. Other initiatives that met with the association's approval included increased funding for NIH research and women's health programs, funding to develop and broaden access to assistive technologies, and a permanent extension of the R&D tax credit.

It's all good, and I join AdvaMed in applauding the president's support of medical technology and, even more importantly, his commitment to making access to quality healthcare one of his top reform principles. I only wish he would show as much foresight—and, dare I say, compassion—when it comes to the plight of the planet and its inhabitants.

But getting back to the subject of innovative medical technology, I invite you to turn to page 36 to discover the finalists of the Medical Design Excellence Awards. A 10-member jury evaluated more than 80 products submitted to the competition, ultimately narrowing the field to 28 finalists in 10 product categories. Sponsored by Canon Communications llc, the MDEA competition is the only awards program devoted exclusively to recognizing contributions and advancements in the design of medical products.

The finalists represent an eclectic mix of devices. In the high-tech column, there is Ethicon Endo-Surgery's handheld breast biopsy system that can gather multiple samples with a single needle insertion. At the other end of the spectrum, a stretcher made of composite materials from Ferno-Washington achieves a lightweight construction that can bear substantial loads. What many of the products share, according to jury chair and human factors engineering consultant Michael E. Wiklund, "are functional and human factors improvements. Their breakthroughs were mostly tied to analyzing how people interacted with existing devices and finding ways to improve those interactions dramatically, thereby making user tasks safer and more efficient."

But don't take our word for it. Form your own opinion by reading about the finalists in this issue. And if you plan to attend the MD&M East show in New York City in June, be sure to stop by the MDEA booth to view the winning products.

Norbert Sparrow

Copyright ©2001 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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