Year 2007 marks the 30th year of this publication’s analysis of U.S. and international med-tech, with Biomedical Business & Technology having issues of our predecessor newsletter beginning from 1984.

To highlight what has or has not changed in this industry, we here provide samples of news items from these earlier issues.

From March 1984

• Under conference news: “MEDLASE has developed (and tested in animals) a disposable non-toxic flexible fiber for CO2 laser transmission that can make a number of surgical procedures far less invasive and ambulatory. This fiber is to replace the currently used “articulated arm” to deliver CO2 laser energy. These complex systems incorporate numerous mirrors which have a tendency to get out of alignment, causing misdirection of the laser beam. It makes lasers bulky and their inflexibility often prevents the physician from performing certain procedures.”

• Under HOME HEALTH & SELF CARE MARKETS: “The explosion of the geriatric population in the U.S. drives the increased demand for care. Objective is not limited to “adding years to life,” but is increasingly focusing on “adding life to years.” The over 65-year-old group, currently 11.5% of the population is spending 35% of the health care dollar.”

“Average cost per day of care in the U.S. is $296 for hospitals; $44 for nursing homes and $30 for home health care.”

• Under EMERGING MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES: “BIOMEDICAL SENSORS were discussed by Jeffrey H. Berg, Ph.D. . . . who predicted that bioelectronic systems made by interfacing biological and electronic elements will likely find commercial applications in two to three years. True bioelectronics — biological elements that replace electronic elements — are a decade or more away from commercial reality.”

• Under TRENDS IN ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY: “The orthopedic implant market is going through a period of slow growth. An estimated 300,000 total and partial hips and about 100,000 knee implants are the major contributors to a $300 mln worldwide market. Technology trends are toward cementless joints and new materials such as carbon and bioprostheses. Trauma fixation devices, implant instruments, bone cements and bone growth stimulators add another $280 mln (worldwide).

Ligaments will become the fastest growing segment of the orthopedic reconstructive implant market during the 1980s. Currently only one product, made by MEADOX MEDICALS, has approval for shoulders only.

Synthetic materials are used by HEXCEL (Dublin, Calif.) whose carbon-reinforced Integraft tendons and ligaments are implanted in about 200 patients in the U.S. . . .”

• Under NEW PRODUCTS & TECHNQUES: “UEDA (Japan) will soon introduce world’s first finger cuff blood-pressure monitor based on the “capacity compensation” method. The unit equalizes pressure inside the blood vessel with the external cuff pressure and continuously displays changes in wave form on an oscilloscope.

In-Line electrolyte Sensors — IONETICS (Costa Mesa, Calif.) will introduce a sterile, disposable in-line electrolyte sensor (ILES) for the real-time monitoring of potassium in blood during open heart surgery.”

• Under Miscellaneous New Products: “A hand-held birth control calculator, costing about $260, is manufactured by OVIX (Somerville, Mass.) . . .

PHOTO INDUSTRY (Japan) in cooperation with DIGITAL EQUIPMENT developed a computerized x-ray image storage & retrieval system; price of the system which features random-access capability is $850,000 “

• And under BUSINESS BRIEFS: “MEDTORNIC received FDA approval to release the Byrel-SX atrial-ventricular sequential dual chamber pacemaker in the U.S. The $4,500 unit will compete, among others, with INTERMEDICS Avius A-0V pacer. MEDTRONIC estimates the revenue potential of the A-V pacemaker market segment at $54 mln annually — currently dominated by INTERMEDICS.”