Applied Medical (Rancho Santa Margarita, California) said it has been awarded a supplier agreement with Premier (San Diego, California) for endomechanical kits, ligation systems and trocars. The contract is the third supplier agreement between Applied Medical and Premier Purchasing Partners, the group purchasing organization of Premier. Premier is a strategic alliance in U.S. healthcare, entirely owned by nearly 200 hospital and healthcare systems.

Edwards Lifesciences (Irvine, California) has entered into an alliance with PLC Medical Systems (Franklin, Massachusetts) to commercialize products for the surgical treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Under the exclusive, multi-year agreement, Edwards will transfer to PLC assets and technologies related to its Optimaze surgical laser ablation program. PLC will assume the responsibility of ongoing product development and manufacture of the Optimaze system and disposable components. Edwards will be the exclusive worldwide distributor of those products. The Optimaze surgical laser ablation device utilizes a proprietary fiberoptic and diffuser technology to give clinicians a flexible tool to create a rise in tissue temperature resulting in thermal ablation of the cardiac tissue. It is believed that the lesions created in this process block the conduction of errant electrical signals in the heart. According to Edwards, the arrangement builds upon its existing relationship with PLC as the exclusive distributor of PLC's Transmyocardial Revascularization (TMR) Heart Laser system for cardiac revascularization. "The decision to expand the relationship with our partners at PLC was a natural one given the continuing success of our TMR partnership," said Michael Mussallem, Edwards' chairman and chief executive officer. "By combining the development activities of the Optimaze laser and disposable components within a focused organization that specializes in laser technologies, we believe we can further enhance the technology and accelerate the development of less invasive approaches to this therapy." Mark Tauscher, president and chief executive officer of PLC Systems, said, "This expanded agreement with Edwards is important to PLC. It marks a significant milestone in our long-term strategy to expand beyond TMR and make PLC a multi-product, multi-platform company. We have extended and deepened our relationship with Edwards, a recognized industry leader. And lastly, we seized an opportunity to enter the cardiac ablation marketplace, which is vastly underserved and currently in search of improved technology solutions." Edwards announced in December 2003 at its annual investor conference its intent to expand the development of its Optimaze program to include products that can be used on a beating heart. The company said it plans to begin market introduction of the redesigned surgical product line in the second half of 2004. The company also said it has extended its existing distribution relationship with PLC for TMR products, including lengthening the term and improving the distribution margin for disposable products. The company said these transactions with PLC will not have a material financial impact to Edwards in 2004.

NMT Medical (Boston, Massachusetts) and the National Stroke Association (NSA; Englewood, Colorado) said that the two organizations have joined forces to promote the education and understanding of cryptogenic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) in young patients. Cryptogenic stroke and TIA are of unknown origin and are in some cases associated with a common heart defect known as a patent foramen ovale, or PFO. Clinical trials are underway to study the best therapy for these patients. The agreement was recently signed at the International Stroke Conference in San Diego, California, and announced to the executive committee of the CLOSURE I clinical trial sponsored by NMT. The clinical trial is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of PFO closure using NMT's fourth generation STARFlex technology vs. drug therapy in certain stroke and TIA patients. The NSA is a leading resource for information regarding stroke. NMT Medical develops implant technologies that allow interventional cardiologists to treat cardiac sources of stroke through minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures.

Vascular Solutions (Minneapolis, Minnesota) has entered into an agreement with B. Braun Medical (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) providing for the inclusion of Vascular Solutions' D-Stat Dry hemostatic bandage with B. Braun Medical's vena cava filter kits sold in the U.S. The agreement provides for the purchase by B. Braun Medical of individual units of the D-Stat Dry hemostatic bandage from Vascular Solutions for inclusion and resale with B. Braun Medical's vena cava filter kits. Following the physician's implantation of B. Braun Medical's vena cava filter, the D-Stat Dry hemostatic bandage can be applied to the puncture site for assistance in achieving hemostasis. B. Braun Medical's purchases of the D-Stat Dry were expected to commence in February and continue for a minimum of one year. The agreement provides for exclusivity in the area of vena cava filters and a minimum of $250,000 in D-Stat Dry purchases during the first contract year. Vascular Solutions is an interventional medical device company with a focus on sealing technologies.