Swissray signs letter of intent for sale of company
Swissray International Inc. (Elmsford, N.Y.) on Sept. 24 announced that the company and its major shareholders have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to sell all of Swissray’s outstanding shares to an undisclosed U.S.-based private equity firm.

According to Swissray, the letter of intent provides for a limited exclusivity period to conduct due diligence, come to an agreement on the terms of the transaction and enter into a definitive contract. During this period, the company and the major stockholders are prohibited from contacting or negotiating with other potential buyers.

Rex Harmon, Swissray’s vice president of marketing, said the company declined to disclose the length of the exclusivity period. He would only say that Swissray now has a prospective buyer “that isn’t looking for a fast return on investment. They have a lot of capital, they want a long-term investment and they see Swissray as that.”

The proposed transaction is the result of Swissray’s February hire of investment banking group Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin Capital (New York) to — in Swissray’s words — “explore all alternatives for maximizing shareholder value and providing the necessary growth capital.”

Houlihan’s “challenge was to find the right buyer that would satisfy the existing management and the existing [controlling] shareholder,” Hillcrest Avenue LLC (Cayman Islands), Harmon added.

In February, Hillcrest Avenue said Swissray stock — which trades on the Over-the Counter Bulletin Board under the ticker symbol SRMI.OB — was “dramatically undervalued.” At that time, Swissray stock traded in the range of 45 cents per share, with a 52-week low of 35 cents per share and 52-week high $1.24 per share.

Since then, Swissray stock declined to a 52-week low of eight cents per share, as of Oct. 22.

In August, Swissray completed what it described as a “major restructuring” of its capital with Hillcrest Avenue and Kew Court LLC (Cayman Islands), the holder of so-called Series B preferred stock.

Harmon said the August refinancing structured Swissray’s “share ownership in a way that was easier to divest. Financial companies, such as Kew Court, that exchanged debt for stock, but wanted to exit, did a deal with Hillcrest to consolidate their position.”

In its Aug. 2 announcement, Swissray CFO Michael Laupper said Hillcrest Avenue and Kew Court concluded that “a more streamlined capital structure” would benefit current shareholders and “should help correct a major impediment in developing broader financial community support for the company. The new funding should help us reduce our backlog and, together with the capital restructuring, is intended to enhance execution of our business plan, accelerate technological development, and maximize product sales.”

The most recent financial report available for Swissray is the company’s statement for its third fiscal quarter, ending March 31. Revenues increased to $6.3 million, compared with $4.7 million in the third quarter of FY01. Swissray also reduced its net loss to $925,048, compared with a net loss of $1.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

For the nine-month period, revenues increased slightly to $14.5 million, compared with $14.4 million in the same period of FY01. The net loss lessened to $6.6 million, compared with $7.7 million in the year-ago period.

Swissray shipped 54 ddR systems in the first nine months of FY02, compared with 40 units in the same period of FY01.

Royal Philips signs pact to sell HCP Group
Ten months after it acquired the HealthCare Products Group (HCP of Mayfield Village, Ohio) with the rest of the former Marconi Medical Systems Inc. (Highland Heights, Ohio), Royal Philips Electronics (Best, Netherlands) on Sept. 11 announced a definitive agreement to sell the medical and radiology supplies distributor.

Global acquisition firm Platinum Equity Holdings LLC (Los Angeles) will purchase Philips HCP for an undisclosed amount. The companies expect to complete the transaction by the end of the year.

Philips HCP distributes radiology-related products and supplies, including medical imaging film, processing agents, equipment and accessories, and digital products including digital x-ray. Among its customers is Swissray International Inc. (Elmsford, N.Y.), which uses HCP to market and distribute its direct digital radiography (ddR) systems.

Philips HCP has more than 900 employees and projects revenues of more than $600 million this year.

Philips made no bones about its intent not to keep HCP when Philips first announced its agreement in July 2001 to acquire Marconi. At the time, Philips said it would divest HCP “shortly following completion of this transaction.”

Philips completed its purchase of Marconi in November 2001.

Philips Medical Systems CEO Hans Barella said Philips followed through on its plans to sell HCP because the business “lies outside our core area of focus.”

Even with its intention to divest HCP, Philips continued to take steps to grow the business. In February, Philips signed a three-year agreement to supply Healthtrust Purchasing Group L.P. (HPG of Brentwood, Tenn.) members with barium, service, chemistry and accessory products. Philips estimated that the pact would generate more than $60 million in annual sales to HCP.

In March, Philips HCP inked a one-year contract extension with Intermountain Health Care (Salt Lake City) to provide radiological supplies and services to Intermountain’s hospitals and 100 clinics.

For Platinum, the proposed acquisition of Philips HCP gives the acquisition firm entry into a new industry.

Prime Medical Services expands into Europe
Mobile medical imaging vehicle manufacturer Prime Medical Services Inc. (Austin, Texas) is expanding again, this time outside of the United States.

Prime Medical has acquired Smit Mobile Equipment Co. (Oud Beijerland, Holland), a manufacturer of mobile medical imaging vehicles with 2001 sales of approximately $9 million. Excluding Smit, Prime Medical’s annual revenues from its specialty vehicle segment are approximately $110 million.

The transaction calls for Prime to pay $3.5 million in cash, with the option of an additional $1.7 million in common stock if profitability objectives are met over the next two years.

The Smit acquisition is Prime Medical’s second major addition in 17 months. The company acquired Calumet Coach Co. (Calumet City, Ill.) in May 2001 for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition was made through Prime Medical’s manufacturing subsidiary, AK Specialty Vehicles (AKSV of Harvey, Ill.), which manufactures mobilized technology, ranging from medical imaging to lithotripsy to specialized vehicles.

Smit now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Prime Medical under AKSV. Gerben Smit is the managing director, reporting to Phillip J. Supple, president of Prime’s manufacturing division.

Smit “is an ideal platform for improving our access and lowering cost of delivering specialty vehicles to emerging European markets,” said Prime Medical President and CEO Brad A. Hummel in a prepared statement.

Hummel added that the acquisition allows Prime Medical to eliminate transportation costs associated with the production of vehicles in its U.S. manufacturing plants as it shifts production to the Smit plant in Holland. Currently, Prime Medical builds its mobile units in Illinois and ships the vehicles to Europe.

Aided by its 2001 acquisition of Calumet Coach, Prime Medical increased revenues by 19 percent last year to $154.9 million, compared with $130.7 million in 2000. Prime Medical also posted a net loss in 2001 of $14.5 million. The company took a fourth-quarter, non-recurring charge of $36.4 million to write-down goodwill associated with acquisitions made in its refractive vision correction (RVC) segment in 1999 and 2000, recognize impairment to certain lithotripsy assets, increase reserves on lithotripsy receivables, and provide for severance of contractual obligations.

For the first six months of 2002, Prime Medical reported revenues of $81 million, compared with $71.7 million in the first half of 2001. Net income increased to $5.1 million, compared with $4 million in the year-ago period.

The company also announced that it would take a one-time charge of $7 million to $10 million in the third quarter to divest its declining laser eye surgery business.

Prime Medical previously forecast net income of approximately $3.7 million in the third quarter, ending Sept. 30.

While Prime Medical’s laser eye surgery business remains profitable, the company said that revenues are declining. The segment contributed approximately $3.5 million to total second-quarter revenues of $40.7 million.

US Diagnostic to sell MI centers to DVI in deal
US Diagnostic Inc. (USD of West Palm Beach, Fla.) in September signed a definitive agreement to sell its medical imaging business to its primary lender, DVI Inc. (Jamison, Pa.).

Under the agreement, USD also on Sept. 13 initiated its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking bankruptcy court approval for the transaction.

According to USD, the proposed sale to DVI is for a total purchase price of approximately $14 million in cash. The deal includes a waiver of distribution in the bankruptcy case, relative to DVI’s unsecured claims of less than $30 million of USD indebtedness — including potential penalties, charges and fees — to DVI.

The asset sale is subject to higher and better offers according to court-approved bidding procedures, including customary break-up and cost reimbursement payments under certain circumstances.

DVI will acquire substantially all of USD’s remaining assets and assume specified liabilities and contracts of USD and its subsidiaries. USD currently owns and operates 21 fixed-site medical imaging facilities.

USD anticipates that its medical imaging centers will continue to operate as usual pending the sale.

If and when the transaction is completed, DVI Financial Services plans to assign purchase rights to an affiliate of PresGar Medical Imaging Inc., a privately held company that owns and operates medical imaging centers around the United States.

USD also filed a reorganization plan under which unsecured creditors would receive partial payments from the proceeds of the sale to DVI Financial Services or its designee. In addition, USD’s remaining assets would be liquidated.

In retrospect, some cracks began to appear in USD’s foundation in 1997 after a string of medical imaging center acquisitions in the mid-1990s.

In May 1998, USD sold its mobile imaging subsidiary, Medical Diagnostics Inc. (MDI), to Alliance Imaging Inc. (Anaheim, Calif.) for $35.6 million, and the assumption of approximately $6 million in debt. USD had purchased MDI in March 1997 from the former Advanced NMR Systems Inc. (Wilmington, Mass.) for $22 million and the assumption of $7 million to $8 million in debt. In August 1998, USD still owned and operated 102 medical imaging centers around the United States.

However, as USD began to divest its medical imaging centers to cover its growing debt, revenues declined and net losses mounted in 1999 and 2000. By August 2000, USD moved its common stock from the Nasdaq Small Cap market to the OTC Bulletin Board, because the company was unable to meet the $1 bid requirements for listing on the Small Cap.

The company sold or closed 35 medical imaging centers in 2000, reducing the number of facilities it owned and operated to 44 by March 2001.

In its most recent financial report, USD’s net revenues for the first six months of this year slipped to $22.5 million, compared with $32.4 million in the same period of 2001. USD’s net loss decreased to $2.2 million, compared with a net loss of $13.4 million in the year-ago period.

Strong growth forecast for contrast media in U.S.
The U.S. contrast media markets generated revenues of $1.03 billion in 2001, and prospects for more market growth are promising for the next several years.

A new report from market research firm Frost & Sullivan (San Jose, Calif.) projects that the domestic contrast media market will reach $1.42 billion with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7 percent in 2008.

The total contrast media market includes all revenues generated from the sales of contrast media, including x-ray, MR, and ultrasound contrast media. Revenues garnered from the sale of contrast injectors are not included in the total market figures.

One of the prime catalysts for the growth is expected to be the increase in the prevalence of diseases that require medical imaging and the development of more imaging techniques and technologies.

X-ray contrast media continues to draw the bulk of revenues in the U.S. market, contributing 76 percent to 2001’s total. MRI contrast agents accounted for 22 percent of revenues last year, followed by ultrasound contrast media with 1 percent.

By 2008, the report forecasts that x-ray’s market percentage will decrease to 64 percent of the projected $1.4 billion total. MRI’s market share will escalate to 31 percent, while ultrasound will round out the market at 4 percent.

“As the population ages, the prevalence of diseases and conditions increase, which creates demand for imaging and therapeutic procedures,” said Frost & Sullivan’s research analyst, Ken Olson. “Development of new technologies that increase the volume of procedures and the breadth of applications for imaging equipment allow that demand to be fulfilled.”

Frost & Sullivan’s report rates Amersham Health (Princeton, N.J.) as the U.S. market leader in contrast media, followed by Mallinckrodt/Tyco Healthcare (St. Louis, Mo.) and Bracco Diagnostics Inc. (Princeton) as the top three companies.

In the case of ultrasound, the growth potential is most promising to ultrasound contrast vendors. Currently, ultrasound contrast media are indicated primarily for sub-optimal echocardiograms. The report added that if applications are expanded to other uses or if much anticipated ultrasound contrast media indicated for myocardial perfusion procedures prove as effective as hoped, the market could grow even quicker.

“Out of the tens of millions of ultrasound procedures, less than a 100,000 in 2001 involved the use of ultrasound contrast media,” said Olson. “This creates an extreme growth opportunity for ultrasound contrast media with proven clinical effectiveness.”

The MRI contrast media market is experiencing double-digit growth, with MR contrast media indicated for cardiovascular procedures, such as MR angiography and myocardial perfusion.

For the contrast injector market, a major highlight is the significant opportunity to increase the MR installed base. The study also noted a “significant opportunity” for MR contrast injector vendors. The report describes the market as “substantially under penetrated with only an estimated 25 percent of MR units paired with a MR contrast injector.”

Varian Medical Systems shuffles management posts
Varian Medical Systems Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) in October unveiled a major restructuring of its management ranks to accommodate what the company described as “continued rapid growth.”

Varian says the moves are designed to “consolidate global operations and provide additional management resources for developing early-stage emerging businesses.”

At the top of the announcement is Varian naming Tim Guertin, president of Oncology Systems, as executive vice president of the company. Guertin will continue to serve as Oncology Systems’ president and assist Varian President and CEO Richard M. Levy on corporate issues. Guertin joined Varian Associates in 1976 as an engineer.

As a result of Guertin’s added responsibilities, John Ford, corporate vice president, has been named senior vice president of Oncology Systems. Ford will be responsible for facilitating major customer, government, and partnering initiatives. Ford has been involved with the design, development, and marketing of numerous products, including several generations of medical linear accelerators.

In other moves, William Hyatt, vice president and general manager of Varian’s brachytherapy business, now reports to Levy and takes on expanded management responsibilities for global sales and service. Hyatt joined Varian in 1998. His career includes an eight-year tenure as chairman and CEO of Luxtron Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.).

In addition, Jeff Marcus, vice president of Oncology Systems, assumed responsibility for the worldwide sales organization, while Paul Rowland, vice president of North American sales for Oncology Systems, heads the sales organization in the United States and Canada. Marcus came to Varian in 1997 as director of national accounts and also has served as vice president of North American sales. Rowland joined Varian in 1977 as a marketing engineer/physicist and served for a time as director of North American sales operations.

Medical manufacturing operations for Oncology Systems now is combined under Keith Krugman, who serves as corporate vice president and vice president of Oncology Systems. Krugman will continue to be responsible for worldwide customer support functions. He joined Varian in 1978 as an accounting supervisor and has since held a variety of positions, including controller of Oncology Systems.

Elaine McKinley has been appointed vice president of Oncology Systems’ customer support. McKinley joined the company in 1979 as a contract administration manager and has subsequently held numerous positions, including marketing services manager, marketing sales support manager, and director of sales and marketing operations.

Also within Oncology Systems, Varian combined product engineering and marketing under the direction of Kolleen Kennedy, vice president of Oncology Systems. Kennedy joined the company in 1997 as delivery systems marketing and business development manager.

The changes took effect immediately.

R2 Technology files patent infringement suit again
For the second time in less than four months, R2 Technology Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) filed a patent infringement lawsuit against its competitors related to R2’s computer-aided detection (CAD) technology.

On Sept. 27, R2 filed the suit against CADx Medical Systems Inc. (Laval, Quebec, Canada), CADx Systems Inc. (Northborough, Mass.) and Qualia Computing Inc. (Beavercreek, Ohio).

The suit — filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware — alleges that CADx’s Second Look CAD system infringes three patents held by R2. These patents involve the ways in which R2’s products, including the ImageChecker CAD system, scan, process and display images.

R2 said that after 10 years of development and commercial sales, the company “intends to vigorously protect its intellectual property and fully enforce its patent rights against any form of unfair competition or infringement.”

CADx Medical Systems responded, calling R2’s lawsuit “without merit.”

Earlier this year, CADx received FDA clearance for its Second Look CAD breast system. CADx CEO Steve Rogers, in a prepared statement, said that all Second Look technology “was researched, developed and patented by CADx scientists.” Second Look initially was developed by Qualia.

CADx added that the company has patents in 25 countries, covering more than 200 claims in mammography and medical data processing.

R2’s suit marks the second time this year the company has filed a patent infringement case against a competitor. In June, R2 filed a lawsuit against the former Intelligent Systems Software Inc. (ISSI of Boca Raton, Fla.).

R2 filed its suit on June 3 in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, citing three of its patents in its case against ISSI and its mammography CAD system, MammoReader. R2 says the patents detail how R2’s products scan, process and display images. The complaint, which is still pending, asks for a permanent injunction against further infringement and unspecified damages.

Since then, ISSI merged with Howtek Inc. (Hudson, N.H.) to create icad inc. (Boca Raton). The company said R2’s patent infringement suit is “without merit” and plans to “vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

PSS expands Gulf South with Advantage buy
After several months of consolidation and expense cutting, PSS World Medical Inc. (Jacksonville, Fla.) is back in acquisition mode.

The company purchased medical supplies and equipment distributor Advantage Medical Products LLC, based in Louisiana, through PSS’ Long-term Care business, Gulf South Medical Supply (Madison, Miss.).

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Gulf South plans no changes to Advantage’s current sales staff, but will consolidate Advantage’s operations into two existing Gulf South facilities to serve customers in Louisiana, Mississippi and eastern Texas.

PSS and Gulf South estimate that Advantage will add $11 million to $12 million to revenues over the next 12 months. PSS’ net sales in FY02, ending March 31, totaled $1.8 billion, compared with net sales of $1.8 billion in FY01.

Cytogen makes changes at AxCell Biosciences
Biopharmaceutical company Cytogen Corp. (Princeton, N.J.) is restructuring its AxCell Biosciences (Newtown, Pa.) subsidiary to reduce expenses and position parent company Cytogen in the oncology market.

The changes at AxCell include a 75 percent reduction in the subsidiary’s work force. The company also has suspended certain projects and implemented other cost-saving measures, which Cytogen estimates will reduce annual operating expenses by approximately $1.4 million, beginning in the fourth quarter.

AxCell Biosciences is involved in the research and development of biopharmaceutical products using its portfolio of functional proteomics and proprietary signal transduction pathway information.

Cytogen currently has several contrast imaging products on the market, including ProstaScint, a monoclonal antibody-based imaging agent used to image the extent and spread of prostate cancer. Cytogen also markets BrachySeed I-125 and Pd-103, two radioactive seed implants for the treatment of localized prostate cancer.

The company also is developing prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) technologies, which are licensed exclusively from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York City).

H. Joseph Reiser, Ph.D., Cytogen’s president and CEO, added that the expense reductions will position the company to meet its financial objectives and “continue to build on the strengths of our core oncology business strategy.”

Imagyn to buy Tyco’s breast biopsy device
Imagyn Medical Technologies Inc. (Irvine, Calif.) is expanding its share of the breast biopsy equipment market.

Imagyn closed on a definitive agreement with Tyco Healthcare Group LP (St. Louis, Mo.) to acquire all the assets related to Tyco’s ABBI breast biopsy device.

Terms of the proposed purchase were not disclosed.

Imagyn also has the SiteSelect breast biopsy system in its product line. SiteSelect and ABBI are disposable diagnostic devices used to obtain a tissue specimen of mammographically identified abnormalities in breast tissue.

The ABBI system came into Tyco’s possession through its 1998 acquisition of U.S. Surgical Corp. (Norwalk, Conn.).

Charles A. Laverty, chairman and CEO of Imagyn, said Imagyn’s goal is to strengthen its position in the image-guided breast biopsy market with the ABBI acquisition.

“We feel that, of all the minimally invasive biopsy modalities, large core technologies, such as SiteSelect and ABBI, are the only ones that equal the diagnostic accuracy of needle localization and open surgical biopsy,” added Laverty in a prepared statement.

Imagyn went to market with its SiteSelect breast biopsy device in early 1999 after completing U.S. beta trails. Intended for use with stereotactic tables, SiteSelect breast biopsy procedures can be performed in one step outside of an operating room and with local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.

Study: Radiologist’s ability to read mammograms linked to experience
A study at the University of Washington School of Medicine (UW of Seattle) casts some question on the ability of some radiologists to accurately interpret breast cancer screening mammograms.

The report concluded that younger, recently trained radiologists were more likely to have false positives or interpret that there were suspicious lesions when none were present compared to radiologists with 15 years or more of experience.

Joann G. Elmore, M.D., associate professor of medicine at UW and an attending physician at Harborview Medical Center (Seattle), led the study. The research compared the reading accuracy of 24 radiologists, who interpreted 8,734 screening mammograms from 2,169 women.

In one example, a radiologist noted no suspicious masses on any of the films read, while another noted that 8 percent of the films contained a mass. In addition, the percentage of calcifications and fibrocystic changes detected on the films ranged from 0 percent to 21 percent and 2 percent to 28 percent, respectively.

The false-positive rate for the radiologists ranged from 3 percent to 16 percent. After adjusting for patient, radiologist, and testing characteristics, the range declined to 4 percent to 8 percent.

The study also found that radiologists in their 40s who completed medical school within the last five to 15 years were approximately four times more likely to have a higher false-positive rate than those in their 60s or 70s with more than 20 years experience.

Ultrasound may prove useful in breast cancer
A study by a New York radiologist suggests that ultrasound be used as an additional exam to detect cancerous tumors in pre-menopausal women that mammography may miss.

The study by Thomas M. Kolb, M.D., a radiologist in private practice, covered 11,130 women and compared how well mammography, ultrasound and physical breast exams detected cancerous tumors.

Kolb determined that mammography did not detect cancerous tumors in as many as two-thirds of pre-menopausal women.

Kolb found that mammography detected 48 percent of cancers in the densest tissue, and only slightly more in less-dense tissue. Mammography detected only 9 percent of the most aggressive, invasive cancers.

The modality detected 98 percent to 100 percent of tumors in less-dense breasts and 94 percent in the densest breast tissue.

ASNC stance advocates new approach for cardiac disease
The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC of Bethesda, Md.) in September kicked off its seventh annual meeting and scientific session with a consensus statement urging healthcare providers be more diligent in the detection of heart disease in women.

The ASNC noted that women are referred for testing less frequently than men and, when they are referred, some noninvasive tests are less accurate for women. The organization used research that shows the use of myocardial perfusion imaging improves the specificity of diagnostic and prognostic imaging in women to more than 90 percent and is recommended as the standard of care for the noninvasive evaluation of women with known or suspected heart disease.

“Clearly, nuclear medicine could dramatically increase heart disease detection rates among women,” said ASNC President Gary Heller, M.D., in a prepared statement. “In addition, our members are striving to better understand the ways in which nuclear medicine can help a woman’s heart.”

ASNC’s 2002 meeting in Baltimore, Md., will continue through Sunday. More than 75 abstracts will highlight the potential for nuclear cardiology.

“The research presented at ASNC continues to evolve in scope as nuclear medicine expands in use across other fields,” added Heller.

Today, ASNC offers an abstract on how drinking before a myocardial SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) exam may improve image quality. Researchers postulated that drinking water would increase image quality by displacing the imaging agent (99m Tc sestamibi) from the stomach area. Twenty patients, tested against control subjects, showed increased image quality during the tests involving water.

ASNC also highlighted an abstract on the role positioning a patient during a medical imaging exam plays in whether a patient is admitted to a hospital. The presentation uses the example of a patient in an emergency room complaining of chest pains.

According to the paper, less than 30 percent of patients admitted for acute heart syndromes are found to have a heart attack or angina, and as much as 8 percent of patients with acute myocardial infarction are sent home, suggesting that more accurate testing in the ER is needed.

The abstract studied 250 patients who were imaged both lying on their backs (supine) and on their stomachs (prone). If admission were based on supine imaging alone, 61 percent of patients would have been admitted, compared with 19 percent when patients were imaged in both supine and prone positions. The paper concluded that unnecessary hospital admissions could be avoided by using prone testing.

The annual meeting further offered late-breaking research on how doctors identify heart disease in asymptomatic patients with diabetes. Preliminary analyses from the clinical trial evaluated approximately 400 asymptomatic patients with diabetes from 14 clinical sites. The study found that more than 25 percent of those patients exhibited coronary heart disease.

Researchers say the trend could be the first step in creating a high-risk patient profile and create a guideline for treatment of diabetic patients with heart disease.

Executives on the move…
IDX Systems Inc. (Burlington, N.H.) will make changes at the top of its management, as of Jan. 1, 2003. James H. Crook Jr., who joined the information technology (IT) company in 1981, will become CEO. Crook has served as president and COO for the past three years. He will continue to serve as president. Current CEO Richard E. Tarrant will become chairman on Jan. 1, while current IDX Chairman Robert H. Hoehl will take the post of vice chairman. Tarrant and Hoehl founded IDX in 1969.

Eastman Kodak Co.’ s (Rochester, N.Y.) Health Imaging division has named Kevin Hobert as general manager of digital capture and clinical applications and divisional vice president. Hobert will oversee the division’s digital capture business, which includes Health Imaging’s computed radiography (CR) and digital radiography (DR) products. Hobert comes to Kodak from GE Medical Systems, where he led GEMS’ global business of digital, analog and mobile radiography market segments and remote, classical and multipurpose fluoroscopy market segments.

Agfa-Gevaert N.V. (Mortsel, Belgium) has named Steven L. Nakashige as CEO of Agfa’s worldwide HealthCare Informatics business. Nakashige most recently served as president and COO of Hologic Inc. (Bedford, Mass.). Prior to Hologic, he held executive management positions with GE Medical Systems (Waukesha, Wis.), Biosound Esaote (Indianapolis) and the former Picker International.

Fischer Imaging Corp. (Denver) has appointed Stephen G. Burke as executive vice president of finance and CFO. Burke replaces Rodney B. Johnson, who resigned to pursue other interests. Over his 25-year career, Burke held senior-level positions at companies such as Baxter International Corp. (Deerfield, Ill.), Medtronic Inc. (Minneapolis), and Smith & Nephew plc (Memphis, Tenn.). Over the past six months, Steve has served at Fischer Imaging as a financial consultant.

Georgetown University Hospital (Washington, D.C.) has added Richard Reba, M.D., to its division of nuclear medicine. Reba will continue his association with the Biomedical Imaging Program of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH of Bethesda, Md.). He has previously served on the faculties of Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) and the University of Chicago (Ill.)

North American Scientific Inc. (NAS of Chatsworth, Calif.) named George Jones as executive vice president of sales and marketing and David Stiles to the newly created position of vice president of brachytherapy sales and marketing. Jones most recently served as vice president of marketing and sales at NAS’ wholly owned subsidiary, Theseus Imaging Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.). Stiles previously served as marketing director for Medtronic Midas Rex.

News briefs …
R2 Technology Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) has inked another development agreement for its computer-aided detection (CAD) mammography system. R2 will customize its ImageChecker technology for use with Siemens Medical Solutions’ (Iselin, N.J.) computed radiography (CR) and full-field digital mammography (FFDM) equipment. Siemens will have sole worldwide distribution rights to its CR-based and flat detector-based FFDM systems integrated with R2’s CAD technology. Hologic Inc. (Bedford, Mass.) and R2 Technology Inc. also inked a development agreement to customize R2’s computer-aided detection (CAD) technology for use with Hologic’s Lorad Selenia amorphous selenium direct-capture full field digital mammography system. Hologic will have worldwide distribution rights to combine R2’s CAD technology with the Lorad Selenia for three years. The combination of the two devices will require FDA approval for clinical use in the United States. R2 signed a similar agreement with Fischer Imaging Corp. (Denver) and its SenoScan full-field digital mammography system last month.

Mobile PET Systems Inc. (San Diego) and Bracco Diagnostics Inc. (Princeton, N.J.) have created a joint pilot program designed to promote cardiac PET products and services. Bracco Diagnostics and Mobile PET will combine marketing and sales resources to offer cardiovascular PET services to cardiology groups in the United States.

Outpatient Imaging Affiliates LLC (OIA of Nashville, Tenn.) has launched a joint venture with the University of Virginia Medical Center. University of Virginia Imaging LLC (UVI) will own and operate an existing outpatient imaging center offering MRI, x-ray and ultrasound services. UVI plans to open a second facility in July 2003 for two new MRI and two multi-slice CT systems. OIA owns or operates outpatient medical imaging and/or positron emission tomography (PET) centers in Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Syncor International Corp. (Woodland Hills, Calif.) has placed a positron emission tomography (PET) cyclotron at Michigan State University’s (MSU of East Lansing, Mich.) Radiology Center. The cyclotron will produce the fluorodeoxyglucose F-18 (FDG) radiopharmaceutical for PET imaging. Under the operating license agreement with MSU, Syncor will manage and operate the PET cyclotron installation to manufacture FDG and sell the radiopharmaceuticals throughout the region. The new 17,000 sq. ft. addition to the MSU Radiology Center also will have a PET scanner and a vertical whole-body MRI system. The new addition is expected to be operational by April 2003.

Instrumentarium Imaging Inc. (Milwaukee) has received FDA clearance on its Delta 32 and Delta 32 TACT (tuned aperture computed tomography) diagnostic digital breast imaging. Both systems are designed for diagnostic digital spot and 3D imaging. The workstation of the Delta 32 and Delta 32 TACT also can be used as a stand-alone system for image viewing. With FDA clearance in hand, both systems currently are available commercially.

RealTimeImage Inc. (San Bruno, Calif.) has signed Diagnostic Imaging (DI of Jacksonville, Fla.) to distribute and support RealTimeImage’s iPACS product line throughout the United States. iPACS (picture archiving and communications system) is designed for immediate access to lossless diagnostic quality images and image sequences over a full range of bandwidths. DI is a subsidiary of PSS World Medical Inc. (Jacksonville).

GPO Premier Inc. (Charlotte, N.C.) has awarded Cook Inc. (Bloomington, Ind.) a two-year contract for the company’s diagnostic and interventional radiology products. The pact, includes products from Cook’s interventional cardiology, urology, neuroradiology, vascular medicine, critical care and other diagnostic and therapeutic lines.

Cassling Diagnostic Imaging Inc. (CDI of Omaha, Neb.) has changed the name of its networking division to CDI Clinical Networking. The division was formerly known as Artesian Medical. CDI formed the subsidiary in December 2000 to provide PACS to healthcare facilities. CDI estimates that it has completed more than 550 networking installations to date.

Amicas Inc. (Boston) will install its Web-based picture archiving and communications system (PACS) at Satilla Regional Medical Center (Waycross, Ga.). The 231-bed facility will use Amicas’ PACS to capture, store, read and distribute approximately 65,000 patient studies each year. The company plans to integrate the PACS into the Meditech Information Technology Inc. (Westwood, Mass.) hospital information system (HIS) currently used by Satilla.

Inceptio Medical Technologies LC (Farmington, Utah) has received FDA clearance to market its PunctSure ultrasonic vascular imaging system. PunctSure is designed to help anesthesiologists and cardiologists visually locate and identify veins and arteries for needle placement. The system also provides real-time procedure monitoring and visualization with hands-free operation.

Aurora Imaging Technology Inc. (North Andover, Mass.) announced that physicians at Faulkner Hospital (Boston) successfully used the company’s Aurora dedicated breast MRI-guided interventional system for a breast biopsy procedure. Aurora says the physicians identified a suspicious lesion that was undetected on mammography or ultrasound and performed a MRI-guided core biopsy that proved the lesion to be malignant.

Acuson (Mountain View, Calif.), a division of Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pa.), received CE market certification from the European Union for its AcuNav diagnostic ultrasound catheter for use with Cypress, its portable echocardiography system. AcuNav is designed for intracardiac echo and all transthoracic applications and as a noninvasive alternative to open-heart surgery for atrial septal defect and patent foramen ovale repair procedures.

PETNet Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Knoxville, Tenn.) has chosen Nelson Professional Sales (Lawrenceville, N.J.) to market its new national positron emission tomography (PET) program to oncologists. PETNet’s goal is to increase sales of PET scans to medical imaging centers by educating referring oncologists on the value of PET in cancer imaging. PETNet is a division of CTI Molecular Imaging Inc. (Knoxville).

Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.) signed an agreement for the purchase of cardiac catheterization labs from Philips Medical Systems (Bothell, Wash.). Mayo Clinic will buy four Integris Allura biplane systems, which will be installed at the Rochester facility within a year. Mayo Clinic plans to use Philips’ biplane 9-inch cath labs primarily for clinical examinations. Philips’ Integris Allura biplane system is designed to accommodate virtually all types of cardiac examinations.

Fujifilm Medical Systems USA Inc. (Stamford, Conn.) has signed a global reseller agreement for EMC Corp. (Hopkinton, Mass.) to become Fujifilm’s preferred provider for large online medical image storage technology. The pact provides Fujifilm Synapse customers with enterprise picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) that include EMC’s Symmetrix and Clariion networked storage systems and software.

LanVision Systems Inc. (Cincinnati) and Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corp. (Malvern, Pa.) have inked a new five-year remarketing agreement that enables Siemens to continue to remarket LanVision’s workflow products for health information management (HIM). Siemens will continue to remarket LanVision’s workflow products, including the newest generation of its Web-enabled product, accessANYware. The original pact was signed in 1998.

VitalWorks Inc. (Atlanta, Ga.) has received two contracts for its radiology information systems (RIS). Associated Radiologists Inc. (Charleston, W.V.) has signed to install the latest versions of VitalWorks’ RIS, as well as its radiology patient accounting system. Associated Radiologists include 19 doctors in two locations. VitalWorks also will install its RIS and radiology patient accounting system at Fairfax Radiological Consultants PC (Fairfax, Va.), a practice of 51 doctors in 12 locations.

Calence Inc. (Tempe, Ariz.) has completed implementation of a new wide area network for Radiology Ltd. (Tucson, Ariz.). Calence also has upgraded and streamlined design of the group’s core network infrastructure and local area network. Radiology Ltd. has six imaging centers and provides radiology services to four Tucson-area hospitals, including the city’s largest hospital, Tucson Medical Center.

El Camino Hospital (Mountain View, Calif.) has selected ScImage Inc. (Los Altos, Calif.) to install a long-term storage archive for cardiology and radiology images and information using ScImage’s archive and telemedicine portal. The PICOMEnterprise is designed to allow multiple departments to store and distribute patient images, reports and procedure data using a common architecture.

MagneVu (Carlsbad, Calif.) has chosen Diagnostic Imaging Inc. (DI of Jacksonville, Fla.) to distribute the company’s extremity MRI systems in the Mid-Atlantic states. DI, a subsidiary of PSS World Medical Inc. (Jacksonville), is the first distributor to receive the rights to offer MagneVu’s new In-Office MRI system. MagneVu initially will market the system to medical practices to image extremities to help diagnose rheumatology and treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Accray Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) has signed three contracts for its CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery system. Boulder (Colo.) Community Hospital, Illinois CyberTechnologies Inc. (Bloomington, Ill.) and St. Joseph’s Hospital/Barrow Neurological Institute (Phoenix, Ariz.) will take installations of the system early next year. The CyberKnife combines image guidance with robotic delivery of radiation to rack and destroy tumors and other lesions throughout the body. These three facilities will bring the total number of CyberKnife installations to 11.

Diagnostic Imaging Inc. will distribute Heartlab Inc.’s (Westerly, R.I.) Encompass cardiac network in the United States under a new agreement. Heartlab develops cardiac imaging software and integrates cardiac imaging network systems. DI distributes medical imaging equipment and supplies, as well as chemicals and other services for the U.S. acute and alternate care markets.

icad inc.’s (Boca Raton, Fla.) MammoReader computer-aided detection (CAD) system for mammography has been added to a contract agreement between the U.S. Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia (DSCP) and icad’s exclusive U.S. distributor, Instrumentarium Imaging Inc. (Milwaukee). According to Instrumentarium, no other CAD product is available through such a government contract.

Medrad hits full speed with Chinese plant
Medrad Inc. (Indianola, Pa.) has begun shipping disposable syringes for use in medical imaging procedures from its manufacturing facility in Dong Guan, Guangdong, in the People’s Republic of China.

The deliveries mark the first time Medrad brand syringes have been manufactured overseas. The company anticipates that as much as 5 percent of Medrad’s syringes eventually will be made by Vincent Raya Electronics Company Ltd. (Dong Guan), which manufactures a variety of medical devices in China.

A team of Medrad employees has worked with Vincent over the past 18 months to design and build the facility, train employees and implement quality standards.

The facility will produce disposable syringes for use in CT and angiography medical imaging procedures. Medrad said the current annual growth rate of these procedures in Asia/Middle East is estimated at 7 percent to 8 percent and the company will increase production at the new Medrad facility as procedure rates increase.

Medrad will continue to partner with Congo Industries Ltd. (Hong Kong), a subsidiary of Elite Industrial Holdings Ltd. (Hong Kong), which has distributed Medrad products in China for 10 years.

The developments for Medrad in China continue a series of expansions by the company, both domestically and internationally, over the past three years.

It was just one year ago when Medrad announced plans to relocate some of its manufacturing operations to a larger, 154,000-square-foot building in the RIDC Industrial Park in nearby O’Hara Township, Pa.

In 2000, Medrad acquired the assets of Biotel Pty Ltd. (now Imaxeon Pty Ltd. of Sydney), a private manufacturer of CT vascular injectors and video imagers for use in radiology.

In 2001, the company transitioned Nihon Medrad K.K. (Osaka, Japan) to a direct sales and service operation.

Brigham and Women’s, EMC launch IT project
Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH of Boston) and EMC Corp. (Hopkinton, Mass.) are partnering to establish the EMC Data Center for Information Imaging within the BWH Center of Excellence for Evidence-Based Imaging.

The IT company and the 716-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School (Cambridge, Mass.) plan to develop practices for a fully digital healthcare imaging environment.

The center’s goal is to provide facilities for BWH scientists to conduct research with the aid of state-of-the-art information technology, radiographic and cardiographic tools. The technology is designed to help physicians practice evidence-based medicine in real-time and at the point-of-care to reduce medical errors associated with inappropriate use of imaging resources.

The center also is expected to provide BWH with electronic capabilities to improve efficiency of storage, access and management of patient health records incorporating genomic and proteomic data. In turn, EMC will utilize the center to develop best practices in medical imaging and to better understand requirements to develop future technologies.

EMC’s Clariion enterprise storage systems and software will support the center, as EMC’s Centera storage systems and software will handle clinical information to be shared on-line between clinicians and help BWH meet regulatory and business requirements for redundancy and security.

BWH also has standardized on EMC Clariion enterprise storage systems and software infrastructure for its picture archiving and communications system (PACS). The PACS currently generates more than 2 terabytes of image information per month from more than 120 image acquisition devices in radiology, cardiology, and other medical imaging modalities.

PET Learning Center winning over SNM docs
Positron emission (PET) education is attracting more physicians than ever, says the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM of Reston, Va.). More than 100 doctors have signed up for SNM’s PET Learning Center courses this year, as well as more than 50 technologists. All sessions, which are held at the Society’s headquarters in Reston, are full through December.

To meet demand, SNM increased the number of physician courses to 14 and will add advanced PET/CT fusion imaging to the curriculum. Classes are taught by leading PET physicians and are kept small (15 participants each) to ensure individualized learning.

Upon completion of the program, physicians are awarded 14 hours of Category 1 CME (continuing medical education) credit. Technologists also receive 18 hours of VOICE (verification of involvement in continuing education) credit.

Financial Pulse
Colorado Medtech Inc. (Boulder, Colo.) and Magna-Lab Inc. (Lynnfield, Mass.) have hired outside firms for direction on maximizing shareholder value and “strategic alternatives.”

In Colorado Medtech’s case, the options under consideration include the sale of all or part of the company, as well as the discontinuation of certain operations, a merger and the sale of certain assets.

Colorado Medtech provides advanced medical technology outsourcing services and medical imaging products, including device and disposables development, system components for medical imaging, and ultrasound accessories.

The company posted sales for FY02, ending June 30, of $70.6 million, compared with $77.2 million in FY01. The FY02 net loss declined to $2.4 million, compared with a net loss of $2.7 million, including non-recurring items, in FY01. The FY02 net loss includes $3.1 million in expenses related to the company’s settlement with Gen-Probe Inc. (San Diego).

Meanwhile, Magna-Lab has hired Sands Brothers & Co. Ltd. (New York City) to assist in its assessment of strategic alternatives, including accessing the capital markets.

Magna-Lab developed the Illuminator Probe, a transesophageal receiving coil designed to operate in conjunction with an MRI system to non-invasively diagnose coronary heart disease. The company also developed the Illuminator MRI Surface Coil for cardiac imaging.

Development costs resulted in a net loss for Magna-Lab in its fiscal year, ending Feb. 28. The net loss increased to $4.5 million, compared with a net loss of $1.9 million in FY01. The FY02 net loss includes a loss from operations of $4.7 million, including non-cash charges of $1 million, compared with a loss from operations of $2.1 million in FY01. The company reported no revenues in FY02 or FY01.

Financial watch
A hike in MRI scanner sales helped boost Fonar Corp.’s (Melville, N.Y.) revenues in its fiscal year, ending June 30. Revenues increased to $44.7 million, compared with $42.3 million in FY01. Revenues from scanner sales increased to $11.6 million in FY02, up from $6.1 million in FY01. The company, however, posted a net loss of $22.9 million, compared with a net loss of $15.2 million in the previous fiscal year. Fonar’s FY02 net loss included non-cash financing costs of $2.9 million, and an impairment writedown of $4.7 million on certain management contracts acquired by Fonar’s physician and diagnostic services management subsidiary, Health Management Corp. of America (HMCA). HMCA’s write-offs are related to its acquisition of A&A Services Inc. and relate to primary care medical practices managed by HMCA.

Increased utilization of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging services propelled Mobile PET Systems Inc. (San Diego) to greater revenues in its fiscal year, ending June 30. Revenues more than doubled to $17.6 million, compared with $7.2 million in FY01. The company also reduced its net loss to $4.8 million, compared with a net loss of $9.6 million in the previous fiscal year.

Drug development company Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp. (San Diego) improved its net loss in its fiscal year, ending June 30. Revenues totaled $10.3 million, compared with $1.8 million in FY01. The company also reported a net loss of $34.2 million, compared with a net loss of $60.7 million in FY01. Alliance attributed its reduced net loss to decreased operating expenses.

Research-and-development and general and administrative expenses cut into Palatin Technologies Inc.’s (Princeton, N.J.) bottom line in the company’s fiscal year, ending June 30. Revenues totaled $280,000, compared with $1.8 million in FY01. The company posted a net loss of $16.1 million, compared with a net loss of $10.6 million in the previous fiscal year. The increase in R&D expenses was primarily due to the development and clinical trials of PT-141, the company’s lead drug candidate for male and female sexual dysfunction. Palatin’s LeuTech infection imaging contrast agent currently is pending FDA approval. In its annual report, filed on Sept. 30 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Palatin’s auditor, KPMG LLP (New York City), said there is “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The news was mixed for Computerized Thermal Imaging Inc. (CTI of Lake Oswego, Ore.) in its FY02 financial report, ending June 30. Revenues increased 30 percent to $877,929, compared with $673,782 in FY01. The net loss declined to $21.7 million, compared with a net loss of $26.1 million in FY01. The FY02 net loss includes a goodwill write-off of $8.7 million, reserves for litigation costs and settlements of $1.7 million, and non-cash compensation benefit of $3.5 million. CTI also received a warning in its SEC filing from its auditor, Deloitte & Touche LLP (New York City), saying there is “substantial doubt” about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern. CTI has hired an investment banker Brooks, Houghton & Co. Inc. (New York City) to assist in securing additional funding.

Revenues at GE Medical Systems (GEMS of Waukesha, Wis.) increased 7 percent to $2.1 billion in the third quarter, as some U.S. and Asia projects and financing approvals were extended into future quarters. The medical division of General Electric Co. (Fairfield, Conn.) says third-quarter orders increased 11 percent to $2.5 billion, compared to the year-ago quarter. Two new ultrasound systems — the GE Voluson 730 4D and GE LogiqBook portable ultrasound device — led ultrasound order growth of 20 percent, or $185 million. The 16-slice GE Lightspeed16 CT helped power CT orders to a 12 percent gain to more than $300 million. MR orders climbed 9 percent to more than $305 million, while x-ray orders advanced 12 percent to more than $305 million. Orders for healthcare information technology systems grew 43 percent to more than $325 million.

Strong performance by its AngioDynamics unit and its CT imaging product segment propelled E-Z-Em Inc. (Westbury, N.Y.) to greater revenues in the company’s first fiscal quarter, ending Aug. 31. Net sales increased to $30.3 million, compared with $27.6 million in the first quarter of FY02. The company also posted a net loss of $741,000, compared with a net loss of $112,000 in the year-ago quarter. E-Z-Em attributed its first-quarter loss to increased operating expenses of $2.7 million, as the company invested in its interventional radiology, CT injector and virtual colonoscopy product lines.

Double-digit sales in software license fees and maintenance and services boosted Vital Images Inc.’s (Minneapolis) revenues in the company’s third quarter. Revenues increased to $5.6 million, compared with $3.6 million in the third quarter of 2001. Revenues from software license fees and maintenance and services rose 56 percent to $4.8 million, up from $3.1 million in the year-ago quarter. The company also posted net income of $419,000, compared with a net loss of $131,000 in the year-ago third quarter.