A Medical Device Daily

GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) reported that it has completed its $860 million cash acquisition of Vital Signs (Totowa, New Jersey) that was first disclosed in July (Medical Device Daily, July 25, 2008).

Vital Signs is a provider of medical products applicable to a wide range of care areas such as anesthesia, respiratory, sleep therapy and emergency medicine.

Vital Signs will become part of GE Healthcare's Clinical Systems business, a provider of advanced technologies for patient monitoring, anesthesia delivery and acute respiratory care.

"We believe that combining the skills and knowledge of the two companies will create significant added value for our customers, bringing new technologies to healthcare professionals worldwide," said Omar Ishrak, president/CEO of GE's Clinical Systems business. "Clinical Systems is a key area of growth for GE Healthcare and expanding our skill base and product offering in this area supports our vision of helping clinicians and nurses deliver the best possible care to their patients."

In other dealmaking news:

• Novartis (Basel, Switzerland) said it has strengthened its capabilities for developing medicines that can be delivered via the lungs through a definitive agreement to acquire the pulmonary drug delivery business unit of Nektar Therapeutics (San Carlos, California) for $115 million in cash.

Important capabilities gained from Nektar, which has about 140 employees who will join Novartis and remain in San Carlos, California, include product formulation and delivery expertise along with a broad device platform. This transaction excludes Nektar's inhalation programs for insulin, vancomycin, ciprofloxacin and amikacin.

Novartis said this acquisition will allow it to build on existing capabilities and accelerate its pipeline targeting life-threatening diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and cystic fibrosis as well as the life-cycle management of late-stage development projects that are closer to regulatory submissions. Potential applications will also be assessed in other areas of the Novartis healthcare portfolio.

"Severe respiratory diseases are a leading cause of mortality around the world and remain a significant unmet medical need," said Joe Jimenez, CEO of Novartis Pharma, the company's pharmaceuticals division. "Through our existing collaborations, we have a high regard for the Nektar team and for their technologies, and these capabilities will play an important role in developing our respiratory pipeline."

Nektar pioneered the development of novel forms of delivering therapeutics to the lungs. Among Nektar's lead development projects is TIP (tobramycin inhaled powder), an existing collaboration with Novartis to create a new formulation of tobramycin for treatment of lung infections associated with cystic fibrosis, a hereditary and often fatal condition.

Novartis will acquire research, development and manufacturing assets of Nektar's pulmonary business unit, including tangible assets as well as intellectual property and related expertise. As a result of this transaction, future milestones and royalty payments from Novartis to Nektar for the TIP development project would be avoided.

• Portico (Philadelphia) reported that it has acquired Ethidium Health Systems (Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania), and will incorporate Ethidium's clinical quality and collaboration tools into its Integrated Provider Management (IPM) platform.

Portico sad the deal positions it at the forefront of emerging medical home and pay-for-performance initiatives by enabling health plans, IPAs, and other organizations to more closely collaborate with physicians and patients to reduce costs and deliver high quality healthcare.

The Medical Home is an emerging care delivery model that is designed to improve care by strengthening collaboration between physicians, patients, and health plans. A research report in the Annals of Family Medicine estimated that if every person in the nation had a medical home, it would generate savings of $67 billion annually.

"With Ethidium's technology, Portico will make available the industry's first and only end-to-end provider management platform that integrates and streamlines network, clinical, and administrative processes," said Matias Klein, Ethidium's president, who will join Portico Systems as VP and GM of the clinical quality and collaboration product group.

• Xenomics (New York), a developer of non-invasive next-generation molecular diagnostics, reported that it has licensed exclusive rights to its patents for the development of prenatal research and diagnostic products to Sequenom (San Diego), a genetics and molecular diagnostics company.

The licensed technology is based on Xenomics' proprietary Transrenal DNA/RNA (Tr-DNA/RNA) technology. The agreement provides for an upfront payment, equity participation and royalties on sales of licensed products, subject to certain minimum amounts. The license does not cover the company's current test for fetal gender determination based solely on detection of Y chromosome.

"This license offers Sequenom the potential for a broader approach to prenatal diagnostics by using fetal nucleic acids found in easily-obtained maternal urine samples," said Dr. Samuil Umansky, CSO and co-founder of Xenomics.

This agreement represents Xenomics' first license for applications of its proprietary platform technology. In addition to prenatal diagnostics, the company has patent rights covering the fields of infectious diseases, tumor detection and transplantation. Due to simplicity of sample collection and Tr-DNA stability, the technology is optimally suitable for screening tests.