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A hospital system streamlines to grow, and a cancer drug maker completes successful trial — MedCity Weekend Rounds, Dec. 12, 2009

Expecting to be challenged in the next five years as never before, University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, is streamlining its clinical and non-clinical operations, and bringing in new faces to lead continued growth at the regional health system. Meanwhile, in Dublin, Ohio, Neoprobe Corp.’s Lymphoseek drug catches 97 percent of cancerous lymph nodes in patients with breast cancer or melanoma in Phase 3 trial.

Here are six of the top stories at MedCity New this week:

     ◊   Expecting to be challenged in the next five years as never before, University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, is streamlining its clinical and non-clinical operations, and bringing in new faces to lead continued growth at the regional health system during uncertain times in its industry. The health system that has turned around its finances and grown its operations in the last six years plans to add “a net 500 additional positions in 2010, mostly new physicians,” UH CEO Thomas F. Zenty III said.

     ◊   Neoprobe Corp. in Dublin, Ohio, has completed a Phase 3 clinical trial of its cancer-detection drug Lymphoseek “with positive results” and plans next year to seek regulatory approval to sell the drug. In the trial, the drug was 97 percent successful in identifying cancerous lymph nodes in patients with breast cancer or melanoma. The study’s goal was a 94 percent success rate.

     ◊   A top Medtronic Inc. reimbursement official warned this week that government efforts to control health care costs through evidence-based medicine could stifle innovation and drain money away from promising technologies. Speaking at the annual LifeScience Alley conference, Bob Thompson, senior director of  reimbursement, economics and health policy for Medtronic’s core Cardiac Rhythm Device Management division, said focusing on cost instead of quality amounts to being little more than “a used car salesman.” 

     ◊   Transoma Medical Inc. became the latest medical device start-up to shut its doors this week. The Arden Hills, Minn., company, which was developing a device to remotely monitor the electrical activity of a patient’s heart, could not raise additional money from investors. Transoma closed its human applications operations and will return to its original animal business.

     ◊   Doctors and state legislators from Greater Cleveland talked about health care reform during a forum at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lutheran Hospital this week. Forum participants touched on federal health care reform efforts, but they talked mostly about Ohio reforms, including protecting existing tort reform measures and moving toward a new generation of reforms that include special courts for medical liability lawsuits against doctors. They also talked about “scope of practice” measures aimed at protecting the work of doctors from poaching by allied health profession advocates.

     ◊   This week’s financial news: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, has received a $19.7 million, 10-year federal contract to conduct clinical trials of new anti-tuberculosis drugs… Kalypto Medical Inc. in Mendota Heights, Minn., has received an $8 million investment for its portable device that uses vacuum pressure to help wounds heal… Envoy Medical Corp., the St. Paul, Minn., company developing an implantable hearing device that it claims is superior to conventional microphone-based hearing aids, has raised $6.9 million from selling equity and debt… Nephroceuticals LLC, the Miamisburg, Ohio, company that’s marketing a daily multivitamin for people with kidney disease, is looking to raise up to $4 million… AuraSense LLC, founded by nanotechnology superstar and Northwestern Professor Chad Mirkin, has received a $2.5 million investment to commercialize technology that employs gold nanoparticles to help treat cardiovascular disease… Aeromics LLC in Cleveland as received a $2.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to further its development of a drug to reduce brain swelling in stroke victims…