A Medical Device Daily

Citing a shortage of trained professionals specializing in magnetic resonance imaging, GE Healthcare (Chalfont St. Giles, UK) reported that it has co-founded China's first MR Application Academy at its GE China Technology Center in Shanghai.

The company said that while the use of MRI in China is expected to escalate dramatically, hospitals continue to suffer from a shortage of technicians, physicists and radiologists specializing in MR imaging.

Even with more than 2,000 MRI units having already been deployed across China, GE Healthcare said the ratio of equipment to population remains low, at 25 times less than the U.S. market.

The MR Application Academy was established by GE and the Chinese Society of Radiology and Chinese Society of Imaging Technology.

The academy, which comprises the MR Education Center China (MRECC), the Sino-U.S. MR Physics Center and the Sino-U.S. MR Molecular Imaging Center, will focus on advancing MR clinical application in China and promoting research using the technique. In addition, much attention will be paid to its applications among the Chinese research and academic community, teaching hospitals, medical schools and universities.

More than 60 experts from China and the U.S. have been appointed as professors at the academy.

"As medical reform in China continues, GE Healthcare will maintain its support of the academy in order to cultivate a world-class pool of senior MRI experts to meet China's needs within the next five to 10 years," said George Cao, general manager-marketing, GE Healthcare China. "This will help China's medical sector provide quality services through MRI technology, both within township hospitals nationwide and at the highest levels of R&D."

GE Healthcare has been active since 1979 in introducing high-end medical equipment to Chinese hospitals and popularizing its use. It was the first international medical company to establish a manufacturing factory in China and was the first to design, develop and produce high-quality medical equipment such as computed tomography, ultrasound imaging systems and X-ray machines in the country.

Big contract in China for Chindex

Chindex International (Bethesda, Maryland), a provider of Western healthcare products and services in China, said it has been awarded a contract as the exclusive supplier for premium clinical application color ultrasound systems to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) hospital system in China for the year.

Under the terms of the tender, the PLA has agreed to purchase at least 15 Siemens Sequoia ultrasound systems to be installed in PLA hospitals throughout China.

The contract was awarded to Chindex through an annual public tendering process conducted by the PLA Health Department. The PLA hospital system is the largest centrally-administered hospital network in China, comprising nearly 200 institutions.

Chindex CEO Roberta Lipson said, "Chindex has been providing top-tier Western medical technologies to the PLA hospital system for more than 25 years. The award of this large procurement tender is evidence of both our long history as a supplier and service provider to the PLA hospital system, as well as to the continued high quality of the Siemens color ultrasound products, for which Chindex is the exclusive national distributor in China."

She added, "Many hospitals in China look to the PLA's procurement decisions when developing their own purchasing plans, so the opportunity to further capitalize on this contract award is great."

Thermo Fisher plans acquisition in India

Thermo Fisher Scientific (Waltham, Massachusetts) said it has entered into an agreement to acquire Qualigens Fine Chemicals, a division of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (GSK India) based in Mumbai.

Qualigens is India's largest laboratory chemical manufacturer and supplier, serving customers in a variety of industries, including pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and food and beverage.

"The well-established and extensive channel network of Qualigens will make Thermo Fisher the leading supplier to India's research market, allowing us to accelerate our growth in a country where science and industry are moving forward at an exciting pace," said Marijn Dekkers, president and CEO. "In addition to greatly augmenting our Fisher Scientific customer channel, Qualigens is an ideal complement to our bioscience reagents and research chemicals business, enabling us to offer a wider range of products to a broader customer base."

Dekkers added that his company also expects to benefit from greater access to local products, raw materials and manufacturing capabilities as it expands in India and throughout Asia.

In addition to its leading position in India in laboratory chemicals and associated products, Qualigens sells a range of diagnostic kits under license.

The acquisition is expected to close early in 4Q07.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has a customer demonstration laboratory in Mumbai that offers customers hands-on experience with its range of laboratory solutions.

New distributor for SheerVision

SheerVision (Los Angeles), a provider of advanced proprietary surgical loupes and light systems, reported signing an exclusive distributor agreement with Marco D'Polo Co. for Australia and New Zealand.

Marco D'Polo Company specializes in health and medical products to the Australian domestic and overseas markets.

"We are excited to begin our relationship with Marco D'Polo. We anticipate that they along with their network of sub-distributors will be highly successful in selling to the medical markets," said SheerVision CEO Suzanne Lewsadder.

Marco Soldatic, managing director of Marco D'Polo, said his company has been looking to enter into the loupe market for several years, "so we are very interested to begin selling the SheerVision range of loupes to the many distributors and service centers throughout Australia and New Zealand that we have established within our network."

SheerVision said it anticipates continuing to expand its network of international distributors across Europe, Africa, North America, South America and Asia over the coming months. "Our international distributor program continues to grow at a pace faster than originally projected," Lewsadder said.