Experiment Shows Pupil Dilation Can Allow Locked-in Patients to Communicate

August 8, 2013 – 11:15 am

Although often fully conscious, patients suffering from locked-in syndrome (LIS) are unable to communicate with their surrounding world. Because of their paralysed state, they are literally locked into their own bodies. Researchers at the University of Marburg (Germany) have developed a method that allows LIS patients to answer simple yes or no questions by watching their eyes. As described in the latest issue of Current Biology, the approach is based on the fact that intellectual effort causes human pupils to widen. Read more…

UK NHS Announces Procurement Development Programme to Cut Costs

August 7, 2013 – 1:53 pm

The UK NHS has published a new procurement development programme aimed to cut wasteful spending. The three-year strategy could reduce revenue for some of NHS’ suppliers. Orthopaedic suppliers especially are targeted in the programme due to the high “cost to serve” (the consignment stock, instrumentation and sales support staff), according to the report. Read more…

Medical Packaging Supplier Emerges from 2012 Earthquakes with Emboldened Vision

August 5, 2013 – 8:43 am

Northern Italy’s 2012 earthquakes destroyed the headquarters of medical packaging supplier Encaplast in Mirandola.

The two earthquakes and multiple aftershocks that struck Italy’s Emilia Romagna region in May 2012 caused massive destruction and loss of life. They also dealt a crushing blow to the country’s medtech industry and associated supply base clustered in the area between Modena and Mirandola, known as Biomedical Valley. Just recently, Sorin Group made headlines when it announced that Q2 2013 profits surged more than 90%. Its plant in Mirandola, one of two facilities it operates in Italy, suffered extensive damage from the 6.1- and 5.8-magnitude temblors that shook the region. Also on the rebound is nearby medical packaging supplier Encaplast, headquartered in Mirandola. In fact, its future has never looked brighter, says CEO Mario Neri.

“We had 7000 square metres over three sites before the earthquakes,” says Neri. “Afterwards, our head office was completely destroyed, and about half of our facilities had collapsed.” A little more than one year later, the company is rebuilding, determined to come out of the experience “stronger in many ways.” Notably, Encaplast has instituted a professional improvement initiative and reinforced its commitment to exporting to the European market. Read more…

Smart Contact Lenses Could Go beyond Google Glass’ Augmented Reality

August 2, 2013 – 3:44 pm

Wearable technologies may eventually take a giant leap forward with smart contact lenses that enable augmented reality. An article on Technology Review outlines several projects that are focusing on developing such alternatives to Google Glass (and competitors such as the Frauhofer data glasses). Read more…

Proposed Amendments to Medical Device Regulations Stress Balancing Patient Safety with Innovation

August 2, 2013 – 6:22 am

Following the decision in early July by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) to delay its vote on the medical device regulations, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection published an opinion report making amendment suggestions. Read more…

Russian Government May Exclude Foreign Manufacturers from Certain Medical Device Tenders

August 1, 2013 – 3:17 pm

Medical device companies may find it more difficult to export products to Russia in the near future, according to the German foreign trade agency Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI). The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade reportedly is preparing a law that would prohibit foreign companies from participating in government calls for tenders if at least two Russian manufacturers are able to offer comparable products. Read more…

CSA, BSI Form Alliance to Streamline Global Market Access for Electromedical Systems

July 31, 2013 – 4:14 pm

Global testing and certification company CSA Group (Frankfurt, Germany) has formed a strategic alliance with BSI (London), the business standards company, to provide global market access services to clients in the electronic medical device sector. Through the alliance, CSA Group will certify and test electro-medical products to applicable electrical standards for safety and performance and BSI will provide conformity assessments to regional regulatory requirements and certification to ISO 13485.

Electromedical products include patient monitoring equipment, anaesthetic and respiratory equipment, and equipment used in surgical interventions as well as large-scale devices for medical imaging.

The German market alone for electromedical products totaled €1.15 billion in 2010 according to German trade association ZVEI.

Creganna-Tactx Medical Appoints Former Abbott Executive as CEO

July 31, 2013 – 12:15 pm

Creganna-Tactx Medical (Galway, Ireland) has announced that Robert B. “Chip” Hance will join the company as Chief Executive Officer in September 2013. Hance has many years of experience in the medical device industry, most recently as President of Abbott Vascular. He has over 23 years of experience at Abbott Laboratories. During Hance’s leadership at Abbott Vascular, sales grew from US$1.7 billion in 2007 to US$3.3 billion in 2011, according to a press release from Creganna-Tactx Medical. Hance also has experience as an Entrepreneur in Residence at US FDA. Before joining Abbott, Hance was an associate fellow at Harvard Business School and a product development engineer at Procter & Gamble. Read more…

Irradiation Processing Experts to Meet in Shanghai

July 29, 2013 – 3:18 pm

After Montreal, London, Avignon and many points in between, the globe-trotting International Meeting on Irradiation Processing (IMRP) lands in Shanghai in November for its 17th annual meeting.

The scientific conclave explores advances in sterilisation technologies related to healthcare products, polymer modification and food safety. More than 500 industry leaders and scientific experts from around the world are expected to attend the event, which is organised under the theme, Irradiation for Life: Safe, Green and Growing.

The conference, which will be held from 4 to 6 November 2013, will address numerous healthcare-related applications, notably sterility assurance levels (SAL) and current challenges involving 10-6 as the required SAL for medical devices.

Go to the IMRP website for more information and to register.

German Business Morale Continues to Improve

July 29, 2013 – 7:42 am

Some good news came out of Germany last week, with business morale rising for a third straight month, according to the Ifo think tank’s monthly survey of some 7000 companies. “Europe’s largest economy is picking up steam and should post modest growth in this election year,” reported the Financial Times in its 25 July edition. Read more…

What’s the Fuzz? US FDA Gets Serious about Cyber Security

July 28, 2013 – 2:36 am

Nightmare scenarios of hackers targeting medical devices has been getting a lot of buzz lately. Last year, IT security researcher Barnaby Jack from McAfee showed how an insulin pump could be hacked into and, potentially, cause fatalities. Jack was found dead earlier this week (the cause of his death is still unknown), but his legacy lives on. Now, US FDA is taking the issue of IT security in medical devices seriously, as it should. Many medical devices—more than half of the gadgets sold in the United States—integrate software, and many manufacturers underestimate the potential dangers involved. Read more…

Neuromorphic Chips Mimic Human Cognition

July 28, 2013 – 1:33 am

As sophisticated as modern-day computer systems have become, they are still no match for the human brain when it comes to processing context-sensitive information. At least not yet. Neuroinformatics researchers from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have developed so-called neuromorphic chips that enable electronic systems to develop cognitive abilities. The electronic circuits are comparable to a real brain in terms of size, speed and energy consumption. Although still within the realm of basic research, the technology blazes a path for human-like decision making. Read more…

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