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Weekend Rounds: Ex-beer exec tries Boston Scientific unit revival

Some of the top stories at MedCity News this week: • For Boston Scientific Corp. to have any chance of reviving its ailing peripheral vascular business, it must rely on a 46-year-old executive who used to sell Budweiser and Bud Light for a living. Beer and stents may seem worlds apart, but Joe Fitzgerald says […]

Some of the top stories at MedCity News this week:

For Boston Scientific Corp. to have any chance of reviving its ailing peripheral vascular business, it must rely on a 46-year-old executive who used to sell Budweiser and Bud Light for a living. Beer and stents may seem worlds apart, but Joe Fitzgerald says his time at Anheuser-Busch Cos. taught him how to nurture a venerable brand in a fiercely competitive, shifting industry. “I learned the importance of brand management for very, very long life cycles,” said Fitzgerald, a senior vice president who heads Boston Scientific’s recently reorganized endovascular unit. “It doesn’t get more competitive than beer. You quickly learn you were only as good as your last productive day.”

•   Ohio’s medical device makers are still trying to figure out what the new 2.3 percent sales tax on their products–compliments of health care reform–will mean for them. The tax on sales by manufacturers, producers or importers of medical devices comes due in 2013 instead of 2011, as was originally proposed, so companies have almost three years to plan for paying the tax to raise $20 billion in 10 years to help pay for reform. Undoubtedly, the largest medical device makers will pay the biggest tax bills. However, size also means manufacturers could pass along the tax as a price increase to customers. Small device makers may not be able to do that. And some fear the new tax will deplete research and development budgets, which could significantly hinder medical device innovation.

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Physician Targeting Using Real-time Data: How PurpleLab’s Alerts Can Help

By leveraging real-time data that offers unprecedented insights into physician behavior and patient outcomes, companies can gain a competitive advantage with prescribers. PurpleLab®, a healthcare analytics platform with one of the largest medical and pharmaceutical claims databases in the United States, recently announced the launch of Alerts which translates complex information into actionable insights, empowering companies to identify the right physicians to target, determine the most effective marketing strategies and ultimately improve patient care.

•   After more than a year of review, the Food and Drug Administration has cleared for market the next-generation liquid chemical sterilizing system–System 1E–of STERIS Corp. The Mentor, Ohio, maker of health and life sciences technologies hopes to deliver the first System 1Es by the quarter ending Sept. 30. Until then, it will continue working with the FDA to resolve the “violating device” status of its first-generation System 1, which STERIS no longer makes but is supporting with supplies, parts and service during a transition period yet to be negotiated with the federal regulator.

•   If the Food and Drug Administration has been too cozy with medical device companies in recent years, as some critics charge, Uromedica Inc. must have missed the memo. Since 2000, the Plymouth, Minn.-based company has been haggling with the FDA over its balloon device to treat urinary incontinence. Ten years and several clinical studies later, Uromedica is still waiting for FDA approval, though the company is already selling the device in Europe.

•   Clinical-stage regenerative medicine company Juventas Therapeutics Inc.–a Cleveland Clinic spin-off initially named AccelleRX–has started enrolling patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of its leading stem cell factor for treating heart failure. Juventas was formed in 2007 to develop and commercialize the stromal cell-derived factor research of Dr. Marc Penn, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist. SDF-1 serves as a beacon for circulating stem cells, recruiting the body’s own cells to protect damaged heart tissue and build new blood vessels to feed the heart. The two-step mechanism may pose a competitive advantage over other regenerative medicine companies.