Alliance Medical (Phoenix), a reprocessor of single-use medical devices (SUDs), reported that Premier Purchasing Partners (San Diego), has signed a three-year agreement with the company to offer medical dev-ice reprocessing services to Premier's hospital members. Premier is an alliance comprised of nearly 200 hospitals and healthcare systems that operate or are affiliated with more than 1,500 hospital facilities. Premier provides an array of resources, supporting health services delivery, including group purchasing for more than $17 billion annually in supplies and equipment. Other resources offered by Premier are insurance programs and performance improvement services of many kinds. Premier is headquartered in San Diego, with other major facilities in Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cook Biotech (West Lafayette, Indiana) and CorMatrix Cardiovascular (Marietta, Georgia) reported that they have established a cross-license agreement to encourage the development of certain cardiovascular medical devices using proprietary extracellular biomaterials held by each company. CorMatrix, a tissue-engineering and medical device manufacturer, will develop products for repair of the heart using the licenses it has obtained from Cook. It said potential products from the merger include cardiac patch applications for adult and pediatric heart defect repair and myocardial grafts to treat congestive heart failure, as well as applications to stimulate myocardial angiogenesis. The extracellular matrix (ECM) biomaterials providing the basis of this cross-license agreement are biological substrates that guide cell growth and act as tissue scaffolds to support tissue specific remodeling that is, restoring both form and function to injured tissues. Remodeling then occurs over time as the implant is replaced by host tissue. Michael Hiles, PhD, vice president of research for Cook Biotech, said that Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) had developed several different biomaterials from several different tissue sources and then licensed one biomaterial to Cook for one thing and the other biomaterials to CorMatrix for another. "The agreement is that we're kind of pooling all the biomaterials and then dividing up the fields of use," Hiles said, adding, "CorMatrix is really going to focus on cardiovascular applications of all the biomaterials, and Cook is going to focus on the other applications of the biomaterials."

In a move that, at least in part, could be attributed to a pending lawsuit with Angiotech Pharmaceuticals (Vancouver, British Columbia) over rights to the use of that company's paclitaxel compound on a vascular drug- eluting stent (DES), Conor Medsystems (Menlo Park, California) reported that it has signed an agreement with Novartis Pharma (Basel, Switzerland) granting the company the right to evaluate three Novartis pharmaceutical compounds for the potential development of a new DES product. Conor will evaluate the compounds Gleevec (imatinib mesylate), Elidel (pimecrolimus) and a pre-commercial compound, midostaurin, for the potential development of a new product utilizing its reservoir-based DES devices to treat restenosis and other vascular diseases. Imatinib mesylate belongs to a class of drugs collectively known as signal transduction inhibitors. It is an inhibitor of several protein-tyrosine kinases including PDGF that are believed to play a role in reducing cell proliferation and therefore may have applications in the treatment of restenosis. Pimecrolimus is a cell-selective inhibitor of the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is believed that inflammation is one of the key mechanisms in restenosis as well as other vascular inflammatory diseases such as unstable plaques. Midostaurin is an inhibitor of both FGF protein kinases and extracellular matrix synthesis associated with vascular endothelial dysfunction such as in the restenosis process in diabetic patients. Conor said it would initially evaluate all three compounds and, based on results, will have the option to obtain a worldwide, non-exclusive license to develop and commercialize products combining Conor's drug-eluting, reservoir-based Costar cobalt chromium stents with one of the three compounds evaluated. If Conor exercises its option to license one of the compounds, the company will be responsible for product development, including clinical trials, manufacturing and regulatory filings, and will pay Novartis licensing fees, milestone payments and royalties on product sales. For its part, Novartis will supply Conor with the compounds and will collaborate with the company on regulatory and technical issues. Further terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Conor estimated it would take about a year to fully evaluate the three Novartis compounds. Assuming that the company is able to find a suitable candidate from the three and has successful clinical trials, Conor could have a new product on the European market sometime in 2007 and U.S. approval in 2009.

Medwave (Danvers, Massachusetts), a developer of sensor-based, non-invasive blood pressure measuring solutions, reported that it has signed an OEM supply and license agreement with Analogic (Peabody, Massachusetts), a developer and manufacturer of systems, and subsystems, for medical imaging and patient monitoring platforms. Analogic will incorporate Medwave's non-invasive blood pressure technology into its patient monitoring product line. The agreement also allows Analogic to integrate Medwave's sensor-based blood pressure solutions into its own products, or products that it designs and manufactures for other medical device companies.