A Medical Device Daily

The merger of two of Charlotte, North Carolina, orthopedic practices into OrthoCarolina — forming one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive practices, they said — has been finalized, Charlotte Orthopedic Specialists and Miller Orthopaedic Clinic reported.

With 17 offices throughout the Charlotte region and a staff of 80 physicians and more than 600 employees, the combined practice will offer patients orthopedic care and services.

“We are excited about what the combination of our two practices will mean for our patients,“ said Daniel Murrey, MD, co-president of OrthoCarolina during the transition. “The comprehensive services ranging from highly advanced specialty care to general orthopedics will be unprecedented in the region, giving patients access to more services,“ he added.

Co-president Michael Wattenbarger, MD, added: “Both Charlotte Orthopedic Specialists and Miller Orthopaedic Clinic have a strong commitment to excellence in all aspects of orthopedic and patient care, as well as teaching and clinical research programs. Our merger creates an environment to expand our efforts further in these areas.

Noting that OrthoCarolina will provide “comprehensive orthopedic care,“ he cited advanced specialty care centers serving several specialties, including foot and ankle; hand, hip and knee; pediatric orthopedics; shoulder and elbow; spine; and sports medicine.

OrthoCarolina services will include general orthopedics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, podiatry, physical therapy, advanced imaging, an occupational medicine program, industrial care and orthopedic urgent care.

Parentech (Solana Beach, California) has changed its name to Bridgetech Holdings International and will trade under the new symbol BGTH.

The company also reported that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire a majority interest in International Med Link (IML; Nashville, Tennessee), a company providing recruiting and placement services of registered nurses from international locations.

“This is just the next step in a series of steps to make Bridgetech Holdings International a major healthcare player in the U.S. and Asian markets. International MedLink is a great addition to our companies,“ said Herbert Wong, chairman of Bridgetech.

IML provides U.S. hospitals and healthcare facilities with nurses from various countries, including the Philippines, China and Eastern Europe and possessing the credentials to practice in the U.S. Nurses who are under contract to IML have a BS degree in nursing, are certified to practice as an RN in their country of origin and have completed the training requirements necessary for immigration.

Bridgetech Holdings said that according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, there is now a shortage of almost 150,000 nurses throughout the U.S., with the shortage expected to continue over the next 10 years. According to a BLS report titled “Occupations Employment Projections to 2008,“ RN employment will grow faster than the average for all U.S. occupations by almost 22%, with a projected need of 794,000 new RNs by the end of 2008.

“Based on contracts signed or already in the pipeline this year, IML should increase our 2005 revenues by a minimum of $1 million,“ said Wong. “There is no limit to demand. We will be helping IML enhance their already existing infrastructure, to increase the number of nurses they can process and place each year.“

In other dealmaking:

Synova Healthcare Group (Media, Pennsylvania) reported closing on all the shares of Synova Healthcare Inc. (also Media). As a closing condition, the company name of Advanced Global Industries Corp. has been changed to Synova Healthcare Group Inc., with the new trading symbol SNVH. Synova Healthcare Inc. is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Synova Healthcare Group.

Synova distributes rapid, non-invasive diagnostic tests.

Report cites high patient costs in drug trials

The average per-patient cost of clinical trials ranges from roughly $5,500 at Phase I to $7,600 in Phase III, according to a recent study by pharmaceutical market research company, Cutting Edge Information (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina). The report states that a drug company spends an average of 37% of its overall R&D budget on clinical affairs.

Cutting Edge said that some of the companies it surveyed have 2004 clinical affairs budgets exceeding $400 million.

It said that clinical affairs executives rank patient recruitment as the No. 1 area where the industry can accelerate clinical trials, which on average, consumes 30% of the overall clinical trial process.

ChartOne moves to Massachusetts

ChartOne (Burlington, Massachusetts), a provider of on demand medical records, has completed the relocation of its corporate headquarters from San Jose, California, to Burlington. The company simultaneously opened new offices in Irving, Texas, to accommodate back-office operations.

ChartOne manages both paper and electronic medical records for more than 1,300 hospitals and healthcare organizations.

“Rising labor and property lease rates in San Jose were making the cost of running a business there a real challenge,“ said CEO Brian Cahill. “The new office locations in Irving and [suburban] Boston are better suited to accommodate our growth while also allowing us to operate more efficiently.“

Maxell among the 'consumer' firms entering healthcare

The effort by Maxell of America (Fair Lawn, New Jersey) and parent company Maxell (Tokyo), to bring its “coil-on-a-chip“ radio frequency identification (RFID) system to lab automation is just one example of the many companies, normally associated with consumer electronics or other consumer products, entering the healthcare and med-tech sectors.

Among the companies increasingly pushing their newest products, applications and services into healthcare are General Electric, Royal Philips and IBM, to name just three of the biggest names in consumer or electronic products that now also are linked with med-tech.

Jeff Giger, national sales and marketing manager at Maxell of America, told Medical Device Daily that its RFID technology is a next-generation elaboration and application of the company's development of EF2 — terminology for “electro-fine forming.“

Maxell, he notes, was initially best known for its production of batteries — the company name a shortened combination of “maximum“ and “cell,“ he supposes — and it then expanded into a variety of audio and videotape systems, data storage and related technologies, including wireless communications.

While the EF2 production technology originally was used to produce items ranging from very fine screens used in electric razors to the “coil-on-a-chip“ RFID application, he says Maxell's involvement with wireless systems “is probably how we got into RFID technology.“

The combination of basic chip technology with the coil-on-a-chip antenna found its broadest application in the Japanese pachinko machines. But Giger says that Maxell America soon realized the potential uses in healthcare “as a big part of the world today“ and the increasing need for high-tech systems in healthcare's “error-free situations.“

Giger says that Maxell America has been working to bring the coil-on-a-chip technology to market in many different fields for the past three to four years. It then decided: “Let's demo this at Lab Automation, let's start pursuing pilot programs with integrators and let's go out and try to get into the lab.“

The result: “We had very strong interest“ at the Lab Automation conference. “Laboratories see very high value in being able to secure information back to the sample itself,“ he said.

Don Long, Managing Editor

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