A Medical Device Daily

Finalizing a merger first disclosed in August 2005 (Medical Device Daily, Aug. 16, 2005), medical device reprocessors Alliance Medical (Phoenix) and Vanguard Medical Concepts (Lakeland, Florida) reported that they have become Ascent Healthcare Solutions (AHS), the leading independent third-party reprocessor of single-use medical devices (SUDs).

They said Ascent, which is now the largest third-party reprocessor of SUDs, was selected as the new name because it reflects the company's leadership in the reprocessing industry and its ascending position as a provider of overall savings solutions for its healthcare partners.

“Ascent Healthcare Solutions will rise in importance as a key player in our partners' drive to achieve their financial and quality goals,“ said Arthur Goodrich, vice president of marketing for Ascent. “As Ascent, we will actively promote the environmental contributions of our partners, which is why we have chosen environmental colors to connote this important message.“

The company said the Ascent name and logo will immediately begin to appear on both Lakeland and Phoenix facilities as well as the company's collection systems at customer locations. Ascent's new web site at www.ascenthealthcaresolutions.com is available, with more depth and content to be added in the coming months, it said.

Ascent represents close to half of the hospitals in the U.S. who use reprocessed medical devices.

In the coming year, the company said it expects to help its customers save in excess of $92 million in supply expenses, which may be redirected to patient services. Ascent has already begun providing healthcare partners with additional reprocessing savings opportunities as a result of the merger. The first cross-saving product opportunity is expected to save Ascent customers over $7.6 million this year alone.

Collectively, Ascent said it has safely reprocessed more than 40 million SUDs for more than 1,700 healthcare facilities nationwide.

In other dealmaking news:

• Ortec International (New York), a company focused on development and commercialization of tissue-engineered therapeutic products, said that all the requirements necessary to effect its merger of Hapto Biotech (Jerusalem, Israel) and allow for the release of the proceeds of its recently completed $6.1 million financing from escrow have been completed.

Hapto shareholders will receive 30.86 million shares of Ortec and an additional three million warrants to purchase Ortec's common shares at 30 cents.

These common shares and warrants will be subject to a selling restriction for twelve months.

“Completing this merger with Hapto provides Ortec with two advanced biomaterial technologies, which together with our lead product, OrCel, provide Ortec with the potential to have multiple products addressing multibillion-dollar markets in chronic wounds, acellular cosmetic tissue augmentation, tissue regeneration, and stem cell therapy,“ said Ron Lipstein, vice chairman and CEO of Ortec.

Hapto is focused on the development of two fibrin-derived platform technologies: Fibrin Micro Beads (FMBs) and Haptides.

FMBs have demonstrated the ability to efficiently recover stem cells from mixed cell populations as well as allow for their growth, proliferation and potential reimplantation into the patient.

Haptides utilize synthetic peptides that mimic the mechanism of cell attachment to fibrin. These haptotactic peptides are used to enhance cell attraction and binding, providing additional solutions in fields such as wound healing and skin regeneration, orthopedics, cell immunotherapy and potentially, drug delivery.

Ortec is a tissue-engineering company involved in the commercialization of patented technology to stimulate the repair and regeneration of human tissue. Ortec's current focus is the application of OrCel (Bilayered Cellular Matrix) to heal chronic and acute wounds. Ortec said that its platform technology may extend to the regeneration of other human tissue such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone, muscle and blood vessels.

• Merit Medical Systems (South Jordan, Utah), a manufacturer of disposable accessories used primarily in cardiology and radiology, said it has acquired for cash certain assets for the manufacturing and sale of an auto-retractable safety scalpel currently branded as the Futura safety scalpel.

The agreement has sales retention and transfer requirements with a maximum payout of $1.25 million.

Disposable safety scalpels are used in various medical procedures and have found wide acceptance for minimizing accidents to healthcare workers, the company said.

“The Futura safety scalpel, which is an established line available in a variety of blade sizes, enhances our existing range of safety products and broadens our product line for kits, procedure trays and OEM business,“ said Fred Lampropoulos, Merit's chairman and CEO.

Regulatory approvals are in place with sales by Merit expected to begin immediately.

• Tenet Healthcare (Dallas) reported that a company subsidiary has signed a definitive agreement to sell the 189-bed Gulf Coast Medical Center (Biloxi, Mississippi) to Health Management Associates (Naples, Florida).

Net after-tax proceeds, including the liquidation of working capital, are estimated to be about $16 million. The company said it expects to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes.

Tenet said the devastating impact of last summer's hurricanes had caused it to reevaluate its operations in Mississippi, mainly as a result of continuing uncertainty about the long-term healthcare needs of the area. Tenet said it decided that turning over the hospital to an operator with other significant healthcare operations in the area would be in the best interests of the community and would speed the return of services.

Under the agreement, HMA has committed to offer employment to substantially all Gulf Coast Medical Center employees in good standing.

The sale, which is expected to be completed by May 31, is subject to customary regulatory approvals.

• NovaMed (Chicago) reported that it has acquired a 55% interest in ambulatory surgery center American Surgery Centers of South Texas (San Antonio).

The company said this will be its third surgery center in Texas.

NovaMed acquires, develops and operates ambulatory surgery centers in partnership with physicians. Including this transaction the company said it now has ownership interests in 30 surgery centers located in 16 states.

• WebMD Health (New York), a provider of online health information services to consumers and physicians, reported that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Summex (Indianapolis), a provider of comprehensive health and wellness programs that include online and offline health risk assessments, lifestyle education and personalized telephonic health coaching for $30 million in cash.

WebMD said it has agreed to pay up to an additional $10 million in cash over a two year period if certain milestones are achieved.

The acquisition, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close before the end of June.

WebMD Health is a subsidiary of Emdeon (Elmwood, New Jersey).