Boston Scientific (BSX; Natick, Massachusetts) has made a second equity investment in and extended its exclusive option to acquire EndoTex Interventional Systems (Cupertino, California). In addition, Boston Sci has agreed to acquire EndoTex upon the achievement of certain regulatory milestones. No financials were disclosed. The original agreement/purchase option was struck by the two companies in July 2001, with the deal making BSX the primary distributor for Endotex in international markets. As part of the extended arrangement, EndoTex will extend Boston Scientific's term as its exclusive distributor. And the companies intend to continue to collaborate in the CABERNET clinical trial of the EndoTex NexStent carotid stent and Boston Sci's FilterWire embolic protection device. BSX has helped pioneer the less-invasive alternative of carotid stenting with its Carotid Wallstent stent, a self-expanding stent constructed of a cobalt-chromium alloy. The Carotid Wallstent stent also is currently in a clinical trial in the U.S. in combination with the FilterWire device. EndoTex Interventional Systems was represented by Deutsche Bank in the transaction.

Edwards Lifesciences (Irvine, California) has acquired various surgical assets of Embol-X (Sacramento, California), a venture-financed medical technology company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Edwards said the deal is "in the $10 million range." Edwards' acquisition includes all technology and intellectual property associated with Embol-X's surgically placed, intra-aortic embolic management system. The technology is designed to capture emboli, such as blood clots or tissue fragments, thus preventing them from traveling through a patient's bloodstream during cardiac surgery. Edwards said the Embol-X System is the only such technology cleared for commercial sale in the U.S. and Europe. "It is a small, expandable, wire-mesh filtration system placed inside the aorta above the aortic clamp, where it can capture particles in the bloodstream that otherwise would have remained in the patient's circulatory system," according to the company. Edwards focuses on heart valve disease, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease and congestive heart failure.

One Equity Partners (Chicago, Illinois) reported that it has made an equity investment in Medex (Dublin, Ohio), a provider of critical-care products, enabling Medex to purchase the worldwide Vascular Access business of Ethicon Endo-Surgery (Cincinnati, Ohio), a business of Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, New Jersey). Terms were not disclosed. The Vascular Access business is a provider of peripheral intravenous catheters and includes the Protectiv and Acuvance Safety I.V. catheters and Jelco conventional IV catheters. In recapitalizing Medex with its equity investment, One Equity Partners will become the company's majority shareholder, while Medex management and shareholders will retain significant stakes. Dominick Arena, chief executive of Medex, said, "We can now offer our customers a complete fluid and drug infusion system. Our infusion pumps, fluid and drug administration products, and intravenous catheters function together to transport measured doses of fluids and drugs into a patient's vascular system. In addition, our combined strength enables us to continue to invest in several high-growth areas, including our syringe pump line and our emerging respiratory unit-dose drug offering."

St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) said it has made a $15 million minority investment in Epicor Medical (Sunnyvale, California), a developer of devices for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF). The agreement also provides that St. Jude Medical will acquire Epicor in 2004 for an additional $185 million provided a number of specific clinical and regulatory milestones are achieved. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Epicor Medical was founded in 1999 to develop new technologies to treat patients with AF. The company is currently pursuing clinical evaluation of its high intensity focused ultrasound ablation system for epicardial treatment of AF. The Epicor technology allows an ablation device to be placed on the outside of the heart and deliver focused ultrasound energy across the wall of the heart to create very precise and complete lines of electrical block to halt the propagation of atrial fibrillation. This technique has been shown in early data to have the potential for safe and effective treatment of AF with a minimally invasive approach and without placing the patient on a cardiopulmonary bypass system.