A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Biosense Webster (Diamond Bar, California), a business of Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, New Jersey), and Siemens Medical Solutions (Mountain View, California) reported an alliance giving Biosense Webster exclusive worldwide rights to distribute Siemens' cardiac catheters, Acuson AcuNav ultrasound catheters, to electrophysiologists.

Siemens will continue to distribute AcuNav ultrasound catheters to interventional cardiologists through its own sales force.

The two companies also agreed to co-develop future products.

Siemens AcuNav ultrasound catheters provide real-time ultrasound imaging inside the heart as well as direct visualization of both blood flow and other catheters. The AcuNav ultrasound catheters provide physicians with diagnostic images and Doppler blood flow information throughout the entire heart during a cardiac catheterization procedure. Siemens says that AcuNav ultrasound catheters – approved for marketing in 1999, AcuNav – are the world's leading cardiac imaging catheters.

"This agreement provides potential opportunities to assess how AcuNav can be combined with our unique cardiac mapping and navigation systems," said Roy Tanaka, president of Biosense Webster. "Together, Biosense Webster and Siemens will better serve the needs of electrophysiologists around the world help millions of patients each year who suffer from cardiac arrhythmias."

"Through our work with Biosense Webster, we are moving another step closer to providing the innovative technology needed to handle the growing cardiac patient population," said Klaus Hambuechen, president of Siemens Medical's Ultrasound Division. "Biosense Webster brings a wealth of expertise that will help Siemens advance patient care to new levels."

Biosense Webster develops diagnostic, therapeutic and mapping tools, including what it said is the largest installed base of navigation systems worldwide in hospitals and teaching institutions. Its products include the CartoMerge Image Integration Software Module, ThermoCool Irrigated Tip Catheter and Lasso Circular Variable Mapping Catheter.

In other agreements, Eastman Kodak (Rochester, New York) has renewed an agreement under which Viztek (Jacksonville, Florida) will continue selling Kodak's compact, computed radiography systems that enable medical practitioners to acquire patient X-ray images digitally.

Under the three-year accord, Viztek will serve as a U.S. distributor for the newly unveiled Kodak Point-of-Care CR (computed radiography) 120, 140 and 260 systems.

Kodak says its Point-of-Care CR products are some of the smallest tabletop units on the market and are designed for decentralized imaging such as diagnostic imaging centers or specialized clinics.

Viztek is a software development company and a reseller of CR scanners and related hardware, serving the orthopedic, imaging center, small hospital and chiropractic markets.

SonoSite (Bothell, Washington) reported signing a new three-year, group purchasing agreement with Premier Purchasing Partners (San Diego) for hand-carried ultrasound equipment, accessories and service.

SonoSite's newest product, the MicroMaxx system, which incorporates the company's third generation of hand-carried ultrasound technology, began shipping in June 2005 and represents a "crossover point between hand-carried and cart-based systems," it said.

Premier is a healthcare alliance owned by more than 200 leading not-for-profit hospital and healthcare systems. These organizations operate or are affiliated with nearly 1,400 hospital facilities and 37,000 other care sites.