A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Instrumentation Laboratory (IL; Lexington Massachusetts) reported that its three-year contract covering its critical care portfolio with HealthTrust Purchasing Group (Brentwood, Tennessee) has been extended to all Consorta (Schaumburg, Illinois) members. Consorta, another healthcare group purchasing organization, and HealthTrust finalized an agreement that established Consorta as the sixth equity owner of HealthTrust, effective April 18, 2007. The membership of the combined organization is comprised of over 1,300 acute care facilities, including five of the ten largest healthcare systems in the country.

The contract covers IL’s portfolio of critical care analyzers, reagents, consumables and service, including IL’s flagship products, the new GEM Premier 4000 and the GEM Premier 3000 analyzers for blood gas, electrolyte and metabolite testing. Additionally, the GEM Premier 4000 includes integrated CO-Oximetry and GEMweb Plus, unique information management software for complete control of all networked analyzers.

Both GEM Premier analyzers feature Intelligent Quality Management (iQM), IL’s patented, real-time, automated, continuous quality assurance system that helps ensure the quality of every test result while reducing costs and saving time. iQM, coupled with its cartridge-based technology and ease of use, allows the GEM Premier analyzers to be used throughout the hospital, at the point of care and in the lab. The flexibility of the many cartridge sizes and menus makes the GEM Premier analyzers ideally suited to meet the needs of HealthTrust’s diverse hospital market.

“Customer satisfaction with our products and services is exceptionally high. HealthTrust and IL enjoy a very positive relationship, which will continue to grow with the addition of the entire Consorta membership,” said Brian Durkin, Director of Sales and National Accounts at IL. “We continually strive to help our customers deliver the highest quality patient care and look forward to providing HealthTrust and Consorta members with the best in critical care diagnostics.”

Instrumentation Laboratory founded in 1959, is a developer, of in vitro diagnostic instruments, related reagents and controls for use primarily in hospitals and independent clinical laboratories.

In other agreements:

The Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (Wilmington, Delaware) and AstraZeneca (Phoenix) reported that they will collaborate to help advance understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and increase knowledge of potential new avenues for treatment through the use of cutting-edge brain imaging methods.

The new alliance will focus on the evaluation and further development of a radioligand discovered by AstraZeneca. This radioligand is a molecule that binds to amyloid plaque — protein deposits in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — and allows the plaque to be measured in real time using a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.

Scientists at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and AstraZeneca hope to use this new technology to find clues to how the disease progresses and affects the brain, offering a baseline for future studies. The information could potentially be used to monitor the effectiveness of existing treatments, reveal new therapeutic targets and enhance understanding of novel ways to curtail disease progression.

This is the second of several planned new alliances by AstraZeneca with leading academic and research institutions to address unmet medical needs through cutting-edge research across several disease areas, including Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain and psychiatric illnesses. The first collaboration in this series was an agreement with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas), in September, which focused on depression and other psychiatric illnesses. These proposed new agreements complement existing AstraZeneca U.S.-based alliances in neuroscience and other key therapeutic areas with world-class institutions, the company said.

The Banner Alzheimer’s Institute provides clinical care for patients with memory and thinking problems.

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the development of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services.

• Neoprobe (Dublin, Ohio), a developer of oncology and cardiovascular surgical and diagnostic products, said it has extended its marketing and distribution agreement with Ethicon Endo-Surgery (Cincinnati). The amendment extends the rights for Ethicon Endo-Surgery to promote and sell the neo2000 gamma detection systems for assisting in cancer diagnosis through the end of 2013.

“Our arrangement with Ethicon Endo-Surgery has been integral in positioning Neoprobe as the market leader in the handheld gamma detection market,” said David Bupp, Neoprobe’s president/CEO. “We are excited about continuing to bring innovation to the lymphatic mapping market through partnering with the leading provider of surgical devices.”

Neoprobe’s gamma detection systems are currently used in lymphatic mapping for determining various stages of cancer. The system utilizes a radioactive tracing agent, which is injected directly into the tumor site. The agent then follows the same flow along the lymphatic system that a tumor would follow if it metastasized or spread. The operative surgeon can then track this flow with a special probe identifying key lymph nodes along the path to be tested for the presence of cancer.

• GE Healthcare (Princeton, New Jersey) a developer of diagnostic imaging technologies, reported that it has entered an agreement with Draximage (Kirkland, Quebec), a division of Draxis Health (Montreal, Quebec), to become the exclusive distributor of Draximage’s Sestamibi imaging product upon its approval by the FDA and the expiration of the primary innovator patent. An abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) for Draximage Sestamibi was submitted by Draximage to the FDA in February and is currently under review.

John Chiminski, president/CEO of GE Healthcare’s Medical Diagnostics division, said “Our expertise in nuclear cardiology as the innovator of Myoview makes us ideally suited to make this new product available through our Radiopharmacy Operation that has the highest standards in the industry.”

Technetium-labeled radiopharmaceuticals, which include Myoview (Kit for the Preparation of Technetium Tc99m Tetrofosmin for Injection), are used in about 90% of nuclear medicine studies performed to detect coronary artery disease. Over 8 million patients receive myocardial perfusion imaging each year, as the increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension (heart failure) continue to contribute to disease progression.

According to the American Heart Association (Dallas), coronary artery disease is responsible for more than half of the deaths associated with cardiovascular diseases.

“Nuclear cardiology is a proven technology, and we’re confident that our partnership with Draximage will expand the access to and applicability of these procedures when and where they are needed. This agreement further demonstrates our commitment to nuclear medicine, through outstanding eadiopharmacy performance and the broadest product portfolio in the industry,” Chiminski added.

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