A Medical Device Daily

Reports in the Chinese media indicate that the Chinese government has promised to spend 850 billion yuan – about $123 billion – by 2011 to overhaul the country's medical system, which has been a cause of public discontent in the country for some time.

The plan that received government approval last week promises to bring 90% of China's 1.3 billion inhabitants under a primary medical insurance program that includes a better public health system, basic medicines, networks of improved local clinics, and better services in public hospitals, said a report by the state-run news agency Xinhua.

Xinhua reports that the plan was well received by experts and academics, but the public reaction, which was gauged while it was in draft stage, was lukewarm.

Cai Renhua, dean of the School of Public Health at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told Xinhua that the plan was "much more specific than the draft," had "clear goals and money to be spent." But he did suggest that the timetable was not sufficiently detailed, and that it was not clear how the plan would be implemented.

The newspaper China Daily said there are reports that the version that was approved last week had more details about implementation, which will start this year. However, the full text has yet to be published.

Among the myriad problems facing China's healthcare system are soaring costs, a lack of affordable services, poor relations between doctors and patients, and low insurance coverage.

Li Ling, a professor at the National School of Development at Peking University, was invited to draft the new plan in 2006. She called the plan a "milestone during China's transition to a modern country."

She said that reform of public hospitals lies at the heart of the new plan, which in the past, due to lack of government investment, have operated on profits from medical services and drug prescriptions.

Li said the investment in health reform is will help to stimulate demand in China's domestic economy, noting that if people don't have to worry about expensive medical bills, they will be more prepared to spend money on other things.

Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu said the government will choose a number of cities to trial reforms in public hospitals until 2011.

Canada okays Pearl Fractional

Cutera (Brisbane, California), a provider of laser and other light-based aesthetic systems for practitioners worldwide, reported Health Canada approval for its Pearl Fractional laser for skin resurfacing and the treatment of wrinkles.

"Pearl Fractional can be used on the entire face or just problem areas. It is especially good for treating the periorbital, perioral and jawline areas," said Brian Biesman, MD, medical director of the Nashville Center for Laser and Facial Surgery (Nashville, Tennessee) and president of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (Wausau, Wisconsin).

Biesman added, "When combined with Cutera's Pearl laser for full epidermal renewal, I have a unique solution for a deep and full coverage treatment. My patients are thrilled to see improvements in not only their wrinkles, but also with their uneven skin texture, pigmentation and sun damage."

"Pearl Fractional shipments are commencing immediately into the Canadian market," said President/CEO Kevin Connors. "Pearl Fractional is designed to safely and effectively repair deep dermal imperfections in just one treatment with an average recovery of five days, and our customers' ... clinical results and histology data support that it's working."

He noted that a recent study revealed that 94% of patients were "pleased" to "extremely happy" with their treatment results and 95% of patients would recommend a Pearl Fractional treatment.

Two international accords for Meridian

Meridian Bioscience (Cincinnati) reported the signing of two new exclusive international distribution agreements. In Australia, Meridian has signed with Immuno Pty Ltd., based in Sydney. For Argentina, Meridian has signed with Scott Pharma.

Meridian said Immuno Pty has a 25-year history of providing the Australian diagnostics sector with the latest advancements in technology.

It said Scott Pharma is an experienced healthcare distributor within the rapidly growing Argentina market. Scott Pharma is part of Laboratorio Pablo Cassara, a family owned pharmaceutical company located in Buenos Aires.

Todd Motto, vice president of sales and marketing at Meridian, said, "[The] Immuno Pty and Scott Pharma business models align very well with ours ... these are the best partners to ensure expertise in sales, technical support and outstanding customer service."

CEO John Kraeutler said, "The effective global distribution of our rapid tests for infectious disease is one of Meridian's key strategies. This is a visible demonstration of our previously communicated objective to improve and expand distribution outside the U.S."

Additional markets for SenoRx

SenoRx (Irvine, California) reported that it has extended its international reach to encompass additional global markets. In addition to the 24 countries where SenoRx products are already being sold internationally, the company will begin marketing EnCor, its vacuum-assisted breast biopsy product, and its GelMark line of breast biopsy tissue markers through distributors in Egypt, Greece, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

SenoRx is partnering with local distributors who have breast imaging and/or interventional radiology franchises in select markets.

"SenoRx continues to expand its international footprint in key markets where breast care is increasingly becoming a national healthcare priority," said President/CEO Lloyd Malchow. "We have had positive results with our earlier international expansion initiatives and continue to see attractive opportunities for growth in the global marketplace. With the addition of these seven new geographic markets, SenoRx will now have a presence in more than 30 countries outside North America."

EnCor and SenoRx breast tissue biopsy markers have received the necessary regulatory clearances in countries within the European Economic Community and in all of the other countries where it has established distribution channels.