Astra USA Inc, Westborough, Mass, has announced the availability of Pulmicort Turbuhaler, the first corticosteroid dry powder inhaler for asthma available to US physicians and patients.

The Turbuhaler delivers medication without the use of propellant gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A multinational ban has been placed on the production of CFCs, which are being phased out of asthma inhalers.

When the patient closes his/her lips around the mouthpiece of the Pulmicort Turbuhaler and breathes in, air drawn through the device delivers fine, dry powdered medication into the lungs. No coordination is required between activating the device and inhaling, as with many other asthma inhalers. Pulmicort Turbuhaler is indicated for the maintenance treatment of asthma as prophylactic therapy for children at least 6 years of age and older, and adults.

Pulmicort is the top-selling anti-asthma medication in Europe and worldwide. The medication is approved for use in more than 60 countries.

Astra USA Inc, a subsidiary of Astra AB, one of the world’s fastest-growing research-based pharmaceutical companies, markets a wide range of pharmaceutical products for use in asthma, rhinitis, hypertension, and pain control.


Hudson Respiratory Care Inc (Hudson RCI), Temecula, Calif, has announced an agreement to sell a majority interest in the company to Freeman Spogli & Co Inc, a Los Angeles-based, privately owned investment firm dedicated to investing with management companies positioned for growth.

Helen Hudson Lovaas, the chairwoman and sole owner of Hudson RCI, will retain an ownership interest in the company and will serve on its board of directors following the transaction.

The Hudson RCI name will continue to be used on the company’s products, and the headquarters and facility in Temecula will be maintained by the company, according to Rick Johansen, Hudson RCI president and CEO. The company also intends to maintain its operations in Arlington Heights, Ill, and Ensenada, Mexico. “The investment by Freeman Spogli positions Hudson RCI to compete more effectively in a changing competitive environment by allowing increased access to capital and a new focus on acquisitions,” Johansen said.

Hudson RCI is a leading manufacturer of anesthesia and respiratory care disposable products and equipment. The company has supplied the respiratory care market for more than 50 years and currently sells its products worldwide. Freeman Spogli & Co was founded in 1983 and has offices in New York and Los Angeles.


MEDIQ/PRN Life Support Services Inc, Pennsauken, NJ, the nation’s largest provider of critical care equipment, has signed an agreement with Siemens Medical Systems Inc, Danvers, Mass. In conjunction with MEDIQ/PRN’s Biomedical Services division, Siemens will provide full-coverage service support of critical care equipment in addition to its existing multivendor service coverage for medical imaging systems.

Siemens offers the industry’s most comprehensive multivendor service, including a Remote Service Network. This unique marriage of capabilities is specifically designed to provide rapid response protection for equipment from other manufacturers. MEDIQ/PRN supplies more than 140,000 pieces of equipment from nearly 100 manufacturers. Both short-term and long-term rental contracts can include service and maintenance, which is provided from a network of 85 branch offices nationwide and two service centers.

“We are looking forward to working with Siemens and Siemens’ customers in providing the most in-depth coverage currently available for critical care equipment,” said Katherine Hill, senior vice president, asset management group, MEDIQ/PRN. She noted that the company has a nationwide team of more than 180 trained, experienced technicians supporting the MEDIQ/PRN equipment fleet. Additionally, MEDIQ/PRN provides a multimillion-dollar parts inventory to assure timely repairs, with specialized test equipment and procedures for all types of equipment.

“We wanted to align ourselves with a biomedical life support and critical care service provider that would complement Siemens’ imaging equipment rather than try to develop a broader biomedical capability ourselves,” said Dan Muehlfelder, manager, Integrated Service Management, Siemens.


VHA Inc, Irving, Tex, one of the country’s largest health care alliances, has renewed its sole-provider contract of point-of-care blood analyzers with i-STAT, Princeton, NJ, a leader in point-of-care blood analysis products.

The contract will be managed and serviced by Novation, the supply company of VHA, and the Oak Brook, Ill-based University Health System consortium. The i-STATr System is a handheld portable analyzer that enables caregivers to quickly assess critical blood indicator measurements without leaving the patient’s side.

i-STAT’s handheld devices perform blood analysis in 2 minutes at the patient’s side, with the accuracy of lab tests that can take as long as 2 hours and require the use of a laboratory facility. The i-STAT System consists of a cellular phone-sized microprocessor-based analyzer and disposable test cartridges that perform the most commonly ordered blood tests on just 2 to 3 drops of blood. The data can easily be transmitted to the hospital’s central computer system, where it becomes part of the patient’s permanent medical record.

VHA has been using the i-STAT System in some of its acute-care facilities for as long as 5 years. In addition to the neonatal ICU, emergency department, and surgical and critical care units that already use the device, some hospitals have begun incorporating the analyzer into their ambulatory surgical clinics and family practice organizations.

“Clinicians are extremely pleased with the quality, accuracy, and turnaround time of blood test results with i-STAT,” said Donna Waggoner, laboratory director of Valley Baptist Medical Center, a member of the VHA network. “Patients’ families, particularly parents of young children, are grateful to see that i-STAT requires a minimal amount of blood, and that results are available almost immediately.”

“Since we began using the i-STAT blood analyzer in 1993, we have greatly expedited patient care,” said John Engles, laboratory director at VHA. “In addition, our affiliates report spending much less time on equipment maintenance and quality control,” he said.

“Over the past 3 years, VHA’s cartridge purchase volume has reached a compound annual growth rate of 70% said Patricia A. Hennessey, i-STAT vice president of sales and marketing. “VHA’s success and their decision to continue with the i-STAT System for 2 more years is a further indication of our technology’s value in helping hospitals improve the quality of care while controlling costs.”

VHA is a nationwide network of more than 1,600 leading community-owned health care organizations and their physicians.


Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, Wilmington, Del, has donated 3,000 state-of-the-art digital peak-flow meters to inner-city hospitals and clinics in six urban areas nationwide to mark the success of the company’s daily oral asthma treatment ACCOLATEr (zafirlukast).

Zeneca joined forces with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), Washington DC, to better assess how they could reach at-risk asthma patients. Together, they identified the following six inner-city clinics: ú Mount Sinai Hospital, Chicago ú The Breathmobiler, Los Angeles ú Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, New York ú Howard University Medical Center, Washington, DC ú Project Concern, St Louis úCrozer-Chester Medical Center, Philadelphia.

The peak-flow meters, which measure airflow in order to monitor lung function and the severity of asthma in patients, should help asthma patients better monitor their chronic condition and help lead to improved compliance with their treatment regimens.

“For many people with asthma, regular use of a peak-flow meter is critical to keeping their asthma under control,” said Mary Worstell, MPH, executive director of AAFA. “This donation will help more individuals and families benefit from this basic tool for good asthma management.”

Before ACCOLATE was cleared by the FDA in September 1996, nearly 25 years had elapsed without the introduction of a single new class of therapy to treat asthma. ACCOLATE is the first leukotriene receptor agonist (LTRA) and, in its first year of availability, has been prescribed more than 2 million times to patients 12 years and older for the prevention and chronic treatment of asthma.

Zeneca Pharmaceuticals is a researcher, developer, manufacturer, and marketer of ethical (prescription) pharmaceuticals, agricultural, and specialty chemical products. The AAFA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for and improving the lives of people with asthma and allergies.


Physiometrix Inc, North Billerica, Mass, announced that Daniel W. Muehl, CPA, has joined the company as vice president and CFO.

“Mr Muehl has extensive financial experience in growth technology and health care companies,” said John A. Williams, Physiometrix president and CEO. “We feel that he will be a tremendous asset to the Physiometrix team as we advance our lead product, the Patient State Analyzer [PSA], through the regulatory process.”

Muehl was formerly CFO of Number Nine Visual Technology, a manufacturer of PC graphics accelerators, where he was responsible for asset management, accounting policy, financial reporting, MIS, investor relations, and planning.

Physiometrix develops and markets noninvasive patient neuromonitoring devices for use during surgical and diagnostic procedures.


The finalists for the first-ever Medical Design Excellence Awards have been announced. The awards are sponsored by Canon Communications LLC, Santa Monica, Calif, and the Industrial Designers Society of America (ISDA), Great Falls, Va. The awards ceremony will take place at Canon’s 16th Annual Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) East Conference and Exposition, June 2-4 in New York. The awards honor outstanding achievement in the design and engineering of medical products, components, and materials. The finalists are:

Home medical equipment: Fetal monitor, Anderson Design Inc, and Marquette Electronics, Corometrics Medical Division; Quantum PD peritoneal dialysis system, Baxter Healthcare Corp; Companion CR 50 conserving oxygen regulator, Roudebush Design Associates Inc and Nellcor Puritan Bennett; continuous positive airway pressured device for sleep apnea, Whitelight Design and Healthdyne Technologies.

Rehabilitative and assistive-technology products: Danasound 163 hearing aid, GN Danavox a/s, Denmark; PMV 2000 series speaking valves and PMV 02 adapter, Passy-Muir Inc; Clarion S series speech processor, Stuart Karten Design and Advanced Bionics Corp; Alpha cushion and locking liners, The Ohio Willow Wood Co.

Self-care products: Persist program for restoring urinary control, DesChutes Medical Products Inc; Serevent Diskus inhaler, Glaxo Wellcome R&D Center; MJ-7 needle-free injector, Human Factors Industrial Design Inc and Medi-Ject Corp; MiniMed Sof-serter, MiniMed Inc.

Diagnostic devices (including electromedical products): Stethos stethoscope, Andromed, Inc; Packard Cyclone filmless x-ray system, Cesaroni Design Associates Inc and Packard Instrument Co; Pixi portable bone densimeter, Design Concepts Inc and Lunar; EyeSys Vista handheld corneal topographer, Insight Product Development LLC and Premier Laser Systems; GDx nerve fiber analyzer, Laser Diagnostic Technologies Inc; Sequoia ultrasound system, Lunar Design and Acuson; LogiCal pressure transducer system, Medex; pulmonary function profiler, RedGroup and Medical Graphics.

General therapeutic health care, critical care, and emergency products: First PICC central catheter, Becton Dickinson; Nova medical exam light, Burton Medical Products Inc; TotalCare System acute-care hospital bed, Hill-Rom; temporary pacemakers, IDEO Product Development and Medtronic; Colleague volumetric infusion pump, Insight Product Development LLC and Baxter Healthcare; Trachlight intubation device, Laerdal Medical Corp; CombiCarrier, Morphix Design and Hartwell Medical; BioNavigation system, Navion Biomedical Corp and CR Bard Inc; Argyle Advanced System for Patient Respiratory Care, Sherwood Davis & Geck.


Dräger Inc, Telford, Pa, has recently appointed Robert L. Doyle, Jr, president. Doyle, who has worked in the critical care industry for more than 25 years and was retired until his appointment at Dräger, said he believes in the company’s product line, which includes the Evita series of ventilators, and recognizes a winning product when he sees it.

“The Evita series of ventilators are second to none and have the ability to deliver significant clinical value,” Doyle said. “Anecdotal reports say that some ventilated patients have expressed appreciation when switched to an Evita ventilator. It allows patients freedom to breathe in every mode, even in control modes,” he said.

A nationwide field service network is in the planning stages with North American Dräger. The network-to begin later this year-will provide on-site repair, calibration, and preventive maintenance on the ventilators.

Doyle spent 15 years at Hewlett Packard, where he was the regional manager for the Midwest. He later became the executive vice president of sales at Nellcor Puritan Bennett until his retirement in October 1996.


Instrumentation Laboratory, SpA (IL), Lexington, Mass, has announced it has entered into a 3-year supply agreement with Premier Inc, one of the largest strategic alliances of hospitals and health care systems in the United States.

The agreement covers the supply of blood gas, co-oximetry, electrolyte, and metabolite testing instruments, as well as consumables, service, and information systems for use in hospital laboratories and at the point of care (POC).

Premier-IL is part of Premier’s commitment program, which requires member hospitals to acquire equipment and supplies exclusively from contracted manufacturers, such as IL, for the above products.

“It is a win-win partnership,” said Ramon Benet, IL’s vice president of marketing, sales, and service. “The Premier membership gains access to state-of-the-art products and services at reduced prices, while IL reduces its selling costs and strengthens its US laboratory and point-of-care leadership,” he said.

Group purchasing of supplies, pharmaceuticals, and equipment is one of the major programs Premier operates to support its owners’ and affiliates’ efforts to manage health care costs, improve quality, and stay ahead of advances in clinical knowledge, technology, and market changes such as managed care.

Instrumentation Laboratory is a worldwide developer, manufacturer, and distributor of in vitro diagnostic instruments and related reagents, controls, other consumables, and services for use primarily in hospitals and independent clinical laboratories. Premier, with more than 1,700 hospital members, represents approximately one third of the total US market for the above products. Premier’s owners include some of the nation’s largest and best-known not-for-profit hospitals, health care systems, and community hospitals.


Cardiac Solutions, Buffalo Grove, Ill, the nation’s leading provider of cardiac disease management services, has named Thomas L. Petty, MD, a pulmonologist and international authority on respiratory disease, to its medical advisory board.

Petty is a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. He currently serves as chairman of the National Lung Health Education Program, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Cancer Institute, the American Association for Respiratory Care, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Thoracic Society, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, and the Society of General Internal Medicine.

“We are extremely pleased that Dr Petty has joined our medical advisory board, which consists of some of the finest medical minds in the country,” said Beattie M. DeLong, president of Cardiac Solutions. “Because so many patients with cardiovascular disease also suffer from pulmonary disease, Dr Petty’s presence on the board enhances efforts to continuously improve our ability to effectively address this co-morbidity.”


In order to raise awareness of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), Pittsburgh-based Respironics is cosponsoring a race car in partnership with Dixie Medical Supply, Atlanta, for the 1998 NASCAR Goody’s Dash racing series.

The series began in Daytona, Fla, in February and includes 19 races throughout the southeastern United States. The races will conclude in November at the Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Fla.

“Respironics is pleased to be a corporate sponsor on the NASCAR racing ciruit,” said Robert D. Crouch, Respironics’ senior vice president, sales and marketing. “We hope our sponsorship will raise awareness of obstructive sleep apnea among racing fans and consumers alike.”

The Respironics-Dixie Medical Supply race car — a Pontiac Sunbird — is being driven by Chris Hall. A native of London, Hall is striving to become the first Englishman ever to win a NASCAR road racing series.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to race in this year’s Goody’s Dash series for Respironics, both for the chance to compete and for the chance to raise awareness of obstructive sleep apnea,” Hall said. “By working together, perhaps we can all make a name for ouselves, me in finishing and finishing well, in all of the races, and Respironics in getting the word out about OSA.”


SunCare Respiratory Services Inc, Tallahassee, Fla, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sun Healthcare Group Inc, has recently acquired Spectra Respiratory Management, Fort Smith, Ark, a business unit of Spectra Healthcare Alliance Inc and wholly owned subsidiary of Beverly Enterprises.

SunCare, the largest provider of subacute respiratory services in the United States, now provides respiratory care services to more than 130,000 skilled nursing patients daily and manages 108 hospital respiratory care programs. SunCare’s comprehensive program includes licensed professional therapy staff, respiratory supplies, therapeutic medical gases, and complex medical equipment in more than 1,000 sites nationally.

“The acquisition of Spectra Respiratory Management increases the density of SunCare’s current programs in 10 states and allows us to immediately commence operation in Hawaii, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and Wisconsin,” said Tom R. Futch, president of SunCare. “The transaction makes Beverly Enterprises one of SunCare’s largest clients and provides broader platforms for the expansion of SunCare’s Respacute/Subacute programs.”

Spectra Respiratory Management provides respiratory care services to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in 14 states. “SunCare has placed a strong emphasis on program development as evidenced by their therapist-driven protocols,” said Mark Wortley, president of Spectra Healthcare Alliance. “They have the necessary professional resources to assure that Spectra Respiratory Management reaches its full potential.”