Bio-Plexus (Vernon, Connecticut) has been awarded a contract with the Premier group purchasing program for its Bio-Plexus Punctur-Guard blood collection needles. The 18-month contract was developed through a special Premier process intended to identify medical technologies offering the potential for "breakthrough" or superior value in clinical efficacy, safety for patients and workers, and cost effectiveness across the path of care. Premier is an alliance of some 1,850 hospitals and health care systems across the U.S.

Digital Voice (DVI; Joplin, Missouri) and Philips Speech Processing (Vienna, Austria) have joined to provide an integration of digital dictation and speech recognition. The focus of this partnership of technologies is on providing a digital dictation system with a "back-end" speech recognition solution deposited directly in the HIS, CPR, medical transcription system, or electronic signature system. DVI is s supplier of Windows-based digital dictation systems. Philips Speech Processing, a unit of Royal Philips Electronics, is involved in speech recognition, natural dialogue and language understanding technologies.

Dyax (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and the Bracco Group (Milan, Italy) have entered into an alliance to exploit diagnostic imaging and related therapeutic applications of Dyax's phage display technology. Bracco has been granted exclusive worldwide rights to the Dyax technology for development of diagnostic imaging products, including the right to develop and commercialize existing Dyax inflammation, cardiovascular and oncology imaging product leads. Bracco will pay Dyax a $3 million up-front licensing fee plus another $3 million per year in research funding over the next three to six years. Dyax also will receive development milestones and royalties on product sales.

GE Medical Systems Information Technologies (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and Zoll Medical (Burlington, Massachusetts) have signed a worldwide licensing agreement that allows GE to incorporate Zoll's Rectilinear Biphasic Waveform technology into its defibrillator and monitoring systems. GE Medical Systems Information Technologies is a GE Medical Systems company. Zoll makes a line of noninvasive resuscitation devices and disposable electrodes, and also designs software that automates collection and management of both clinical and nonclinical data for emergency medical service providers.

Hill-Rom (Batesville, Indiana), a Hillenbrand Industries company, has partnered with Masimo (Irvine, California). Hill-Rom intends to make Masimo's Signal Extraction Technology (SET) its pulse oximetry platform, available in various Hill-Rom product offerings. Hill-Rom products include beds, therapy surfaces, stretchers, infant warmers, incubators, furniture, communication systems, surgical columns, medical gas management systems, modular headwalls and lighting systems.

InnerDyne (Sunnyvale, California) has signed a purchasing agreement with the Premier group purchasing alliance to provide devices that provide access to implements during "keyhole" surgical procedures. InnerDyne makes radially dilatable entry ports called Step for minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.

Mallinckrodt (St. Louis, Missouri) and Invacare (Elyria, Ohio) have formed an alliance involving two initiatives. The first establishes a distribution agreement between the two companies in which Invacare will distribute Mallinckrodt's complete line of oxygen therapy products. The second involves Mallinckrodt's decision to discontinue the production of its Puritan Bennett 590 series oxygen concentrators. Mallinckrodt has selected Invacare to provide North American support for the 590 series oxygen concentrators. Invacare also will become a distributor of Mallinckrodt's other Puritan Bennett oxygen therapy products. Mallinckrodt makes specialty medical products designed to sustain breathing, diagnose disease and relieve pain. Invacare makes home medical products.

Norland Medical Systems (White Plains, New York) has signed an agreement with Cooper Surgical (Pleasanton, California), a wholly owned subsidiary of The Cooper Companies, to exclusively distribute Norland bone measurement systems to physician and group practices providing obstetric and gynecologic services in the U.S. Norland makes bone measurement systems used to assess bone mineral content and density, and also markets other muscoloskeletal devices used in sports medicine, rehabilitative medicine and in pain management to treat muscles and ligaments, as well as lithotripters used in urology to treat kidney stones. Cooper Surgical markets diagnostic and surgical instruments and accessories for the gynecological market.

SurgiLight (Orlando, Florida) said it has acquired the exclusive worldwide licensing rights to a diode-pumped multi-wavelength laser for medial applications patented by Lowell Crow. The company will own a worldwide, exclusive license to make and sell licensed products that are covered by U.S. patent 5,243,798, which covers the use of a solid-state ophthalmic laser apparatus for photocoagulating and photoablating ocular tissue. It also covers the use of multi-wavelength semiconductor laser and diode-pumped Er:YAG laser which are coupled to a single optical.