A Medical Device Daily

Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics (S&N; Memphis, Tennessee) and BrainLAB (Munich, Germany) reported an agreement under which BrainLAB will become the exclusive vendor for developing and supporting computer-assisted surgical technologies for Smith & Nephew's high performance hip and knee implants.

Starting in March, BrainLAB will begin integrating the S&N portfolio of instruments, implants and pre-existing navigation technology into its systems. BrainLAB will build on the implant maker's PiGalileo system. For instance, the PiGalileo Acculign motorized positioning guide will be a central component of future development, and will remain exclusive to Smith & Nephew implant-specific applications.

"Relying exclusively on navigation from BrainLAB ... Smith & Nephew can focus more of our resources on our core business – the design, development, marketing and sale of orthopedic implants," said Joseph DeVivo, president of Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics.

Under the agreement, S&N will provide marketing, sales support, training, and post-installation clinical support, while BrainLAB will execute sales of the navigation equipment, as well as applications training and service.

Smith & Nephew will continue to support its base of existing computer-navigation customers who use its PiGalileo and AchieveCAS systems.

Since 2003, BrainLAB has introduced applications globally that accommodate S&N implants, though not as part of an exclusive development deal. BrainLAB will continue its open platform strategy supporting the orthopedic market.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• GE Healthcare (Chalfont St. Giles, UK) reported a structured partnership to enable service offerings for all aspects of its healthcare IT life cycle – planning, deployment, customization, and ongoing maintenance. Through the partnership, GE Healthcare will certify HCL (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) on its core healthcare IT offering, Centricity Enterprise, and integrate HCL into its Digital Day One effort which helps new hospitals in emerging markets open their doors as fully digital hospitals.

In November, GE unveiled its Digital Day One initiative that provides an IT starter kit that aims to reduce the digital divide between new hospitals in emerging markets and those in mature markets, providing every hospital with the same opportunity to improve the way healthcare is delivered.

Aspetar Hospital (Qatar) and the Qatar Foundation are two of the first beta sites to partner with GE Healthcare on this healthcare IT solution.

• Nanogen (San Diego) has expanded its partnership with HandyLab (Ann Arbor, Michigan) by signing a licensing and supply agreement for use of the company's Minor Groove Binder (MGB) Probe technology and synthetic nucleic acid chemistries, including dyes and quenchers, for use in in vitro diagnostic testing.

Under the licensing agreement, HandyLab receives a non-exclusive license to market, sell and distribute PCR test kits utilizing Nanogen's patented technology for use on HandyLab's Jaguar System and other HandyLab systems. Terms of the agreement include an upfront license fee and a commitment to supply HandyLab with Nanogen's PCR products.

• Premier (San Diego) reported new agreements for blood pressure cuffs, as well as sphygmomanometer devices and replacement accessories have been awarded to GE Healthcare, Welch Allyn (Skaneateles Falls, New York) and Vital Signs (Totowa, New Jersey).

The devices, cuffs and accessories found in this category were previously included in the vital sign monitoring and blood pressure cuffs category. While sphygmomanometer devices (blood pressure meters) will continue to reside in this category, the capital equipment used to record and measure a patient's blood pressure is included in the physiological monitoring category.

Effective March 1, the 36-month agreements are available to acute-care and continuum-of-care members of the Premier healthcare alliance.

After several months of discussions, Lexington Medical Center (Columbia, South Carolina) and Providence Hospitals (also Columbia) have reached terms on an agreement that advances both of their efforts to improve healthcare delivery in the Midlands of South Carolina. Specifically, Providence Hospitals will support Lexington Medical Center's efforts to secure an open-heart surgery program and Lexington Medical Center will drop its objections to a proposed expansion at Providence Hospitals Northeast.

Under the terms of this agreement, Providence Hospitals will support Lexington Medical Center in seeking regulatory approval through a joint Certificate of Need application. Within the application, Lexington Medical Center will request approval for one open-heart surgery suite and the authority to perform open-heart surgery and therapeutic cardiac catheterizations.

If approved by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Providence Hospitals will de-license one of its open-heart surgery suites, allowing Lexington Medical Center to add a suite, in keeping with the 2008-2009 State Health Plan.

Lexington Medical Center has dismissed its lawsuit opposing Providence Hospitals' plans to expand.

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