A Medical Device Daily

Chindex International (Bethesda, Maryland) reported an exclusive, multi-year agreement with Intuitive Surgical (Sunnyvale, California) for distribution of Intuitive's da Vinci Surgical System in China.

Under the terms of the agreement, Chindex will market and distribute the da Vinci system — the first totally intuitive laparoscopic surgical robot — throughout the healthcare industry in China.

The da Vinci system was the first operative surgical robotic system cleared by the FDA and is now used in more than 160 sites in the U.S. as well as many countries in Europe, but has yet to be introduced in China. The FDA has cleared the da Vinci System for use in many procedures, including general laparoscopic surgery, thoracoscopic surgery, laparoscopic radical prostatectomies and thoracoscopically assisted cardiotomy procedures.

Chindex President and CEO Roberta Lipson said, “The da Vinci Surgical System is a cutting-edge technology that is redefining the world of minimally invasive surgery around the world, shortening the operating time and dramatically reducing post-operative complications in such important procedures as cardiac bypass, radical prostatectomy and other life-saving surgeries.“

She said her company has begun discussions about placements of the system in what she termed “the premier surgical centers around the country,“ adding that the response is “enthusiastic.“

Lipson added: “The Chinese government is committed to supporting its major healthcare providers with the leading-edge equipment at a world-class level.“

Jerry McNamara, senior vice president of sales at Intuitive, said Chindex is “well recognized in the China market for bringing new top-tier healthcare technologies to that country. We believe the product is right for introduction in China at this time and Chindex is the right distributor for us.“

Chindex is a U.S. firm operating in several healthcare sectors of the Chinese market, including Hong Kong. It provides representative and distribution services to a number of major multinational companies, including Siemens AG, for which it distributes ultrasound systems, and Guidant, for interventional cardiology products, including stents, balloon catheters and guidewires.

Expanded involvement for Trestle in Saudi Arabia

Trestle Holdings (Irvine, California), a supplier of digital imaging and telemedicine applications, said it has been selected as a technology partner for the MeduNet telepathology infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, broadening its existing involvement with the program, which provides advanced technology solutions throughout the Arab world.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Shamekh, director general of MeduNet, a program of the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Foundation, said, “Through telemedicine, videoconferencing and distance learning applications, the region will be linked to an unprecedented panel of professionals from around the globe.“

He said MeduNet client organizations include the largest healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia, including the Ministry of Defense and Aviation Medical Service Department and its more than 30 hospitals and healthcare centers, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh and Jeddah, Erfan Hospital in Jeddah and others.

“The addition of Trestle's telepathology solution expands the capabilities of MeduNet in a key area of pathology,“ Al-Shamekh added.

Maurizio Vecchione, CEO of Trestle, said his company's relationship with MeduNet was begun in 2001 with the implementation of its telemedicine technology to provide access to high-quality medical care throughout the kingdom. “The expansion by MeduNet to include our telepathology solutions represents a vote of confidence in our technology. What MeduNet is attempting to do illustrates the power of modern telecommunication and digital imaging technology, with the potential to dramatically transform medical practice.“

Vecchione said Trestle's technology would be incorporated into “what we believe might be one of the most far-reaching and ambitious telemedicine and telepathology programs in the world in both scope and size.“

Trestle's digital imaging and telemedicine products link geographically dispersed users with each other, information databases and analytical tools.

Cerus to broaden pact with BioOne

Cerus (Concord, California) reported that, along with subsidiaries of Baxter International (Deerfield, Illinois), it has signed a letter of intent with BioOne (Tokyo) for commercialization of the Intercept Blood System for plasma in parts of Asia.

Cerus received an up-front payment of $3 million in connection with the signing of the letter of intent. It said its right to retain the up-front payment is not contingent upon completion of the definitive agreement negotiated between the companies.

The anticipated agreement follows an agreement reached last July among BioOne, Cerus and the Baxter subsidiaries for commercialization of the Intercept Blood System for platelets in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore (Medical Device Daily, July 30, 2004).

If completed, the new agreement would allow BioOne to offer both pathogen-inactivated platelet and plasma products in these regions, following product approvals in each of the countries involved.

The Intercept Blood System is designed to enhance the safety of donated blood components by inactivating viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. The Intercept system is based on Cerus' Helinx technology for controlling biological replication. The Intercept system for platelets is approved for use in the European Union and Canada.

VScan test kits going to Sri Lanka

Medical Services International (MSI; Edmonton, Alberta) said shipments of its VScan test kits to Sri Lanka will begin by the end of this week to help deal with any outbreak of Dengue fever in the wake of the tsunami disaster in Southeastern Asia.

Noting that Dengue fever is very prevalent in Sri Lanka and surrounding areas, MSI said that with the increase in standing water as a result of the tsunami, there will be a significant increase in the mosquito populations and likely an increase in Dengue fever.

“With the shortage of laboratory facilities [in the affected region] and the length of time to get results,“ said the company, “the VScan Dengue fever test kit will be very helpful.“

The VScan test kit requires no medical facilities, no refrigeration, can be administered by non-medical personnel and gives results in less than 10 minutes. The single-use kit also is used for the screening of HIV 1 & 2, hepatitis B & C, tuberculosis and West Nile virus.

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