Monday, July 30, 2007

Wierd Copyright issues in medicine surface in gastric bypass innovation lawsuit

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I just wrote about this issue last week. Okay, I wrote about patents but this one is just wierd...

So this case in particular seems to be an interesting one in terms of providing surgeons the ability to still use the copyrighted procedure brochures and other material, as long as they pay and get trained. Dr. Rutledge who invented the procedure does not seem to be so interested in a process patent, thus making it easier for others to use ..and probably cheaper.

And the copyright relates both to the marketing material and related patient recruitment documents...

When you own a copyright and feel its being violated you have to sue to try and protect your copyright. Hence this lawsuit is a technicality.

What I don't understand is, couldn't the doctors at Cornerstone not create their own forms? Sounds awfully lazy of them if you ask me...

Lets see where this one goes...

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Borrowed from a blog: World's earliest prosthetics

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This is always interesting. While the field of medical devices in its current incarnation seems to still be very nascent, with most of the devices not being anything more than empancipated body plumbing, it was very interesting to stumble upon this interesting posting on "medopedia".

So, prosthetics have existed in an age whose marvel never seems to leave us. The ancient Egyptians, apart from knowing several techniques of embalming, construction and other sciences which we are just about perfecting today, also, in all probability, knew how to construct prosthetics. More importantly, these may have even been functional!

This opens up amazing possibilities, and should motivate the engineers and scientists of today to open up their eyes to innumerable possibilities for innovation!

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Friday, July 27, 2007

And, thus, ended the lawsuits...Kyphon and Medtronic: The marriage follows the divorce

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Medtronic acquiring Kyphone never seemed like an intellectual challenge to think up. The "synergy" that gets thrown around in these press releases actually existed for both companies.

One wonders, why then, it took Medtronic so loooong. And while waiting to learn that Kyphon may be a good buy, Medtronic and Kyphon were not shy to sue and counter-sue each other for patent infringement. Even that didn't seem to offer a clue. Or maybe, Medtronic didn't have the cash. While that's hard to believe, they might have waited for Kyphon to turn into a juicier buy.

Meanwhile, there must be atleast two law firms with partners laughing their way to the banks...

Kyphon, will indeed be a feather on Medtronics' cap.

And so, they may now say: "Look before you sue!"

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Monday, July 23, 2007

New Strategies Galore - Using emotional appeal to kill innovation in medical devices

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Warning: This is an unusually long post..

Here are a couple of paragraphs I have stolen verbatim from the article:

"Dragseth cited the recent case of Dr. Gary Michelson, who in 2005 received a $1.35 billion settlement after suing a medical device company over his patented spinal surgical technique that speeds recovery. Medtronic v. Michelson, No. 01cv2373 (W.D. Tenn.)."

"Last month, a veterinarian who sued a surgical instrument maker over his patented technique for declawing a cat also won his case when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld his patent. Young v. Lumenis, No. 06-1455 (S.D. Ohio). "

Now let me first acknowledge the article lest, ironically, sues me for freely using parts of their article (which was published after earnest research, and editorial skill for the common good I suppose)

Okay. Let us only look at these two examples. First Medtronic is not the small kid off the block who is being crushed by the Goliath Dr. Gray Michelson. Their positions in fact, would be switched if that were the case...

So what's actually going on? Medtronic, being the big company that it is, picked a problem area, saw a giant market opportunity and developed a product. Dr. Gray Michelson who had done the same thing, except a while ago - and had patented it, decided to sue. Its pure capitalism.

Now, lets imagine if the positions were switched. Let us say, Medtronic contrived of the whole thing, a few scores and some years ago (has to be less than a score for the patent to be valid, so lets say it was no scores and just a few years ago). Then comes Dr. Michelson who wants to perform the same procedure as "Michelson's special procedure". Do you think Medtronic would have said, "Oh, he looks like a poor enough doctor. And he is saving lives. So, let's not go after him..."

If you truly think Medtronic would have said that, I should say you need your head examined (some would say you need a head).

With quite a bit of further ado, let us look at our friendly Vet. Now, are we trying to say that just because a few people are overly taken by the love of their cats (which they buy mostly, thus promoting animal trade) would like to have them treated for cheap, the guy who actually invents the cat-life saving procedure (okay, cat de-clawing doesn't save lives, unless he/she plans to maul your other cats) should not expect to earn a little extra?

See the problem. This world is riddled with idiots. Simply put, their philosophy is "Don't live and most definitely, don't let live".

Innovation equates to and promotes progress. Innovation is needed for us to obtain new treatments. This innovation can grow only if rewarded. Patents are a very good business reward. In both examples above, the companies would have probably had good lawyers scoping the IP field before launching their products.

Don't even think they didn't....

So, in all probability, they decided to deliberately infringe on the patents, though on their life they would never admit it. They probably thought, "Its us, Megabucks Inc. versus single inventor dude. We are sure to win!" Again, not a bad strategy, business - wise. That is what companies do. They try not to own up for their costs as a strategy to reduce costs (thus increasing the miniscule possibilities of their executives paying a much needed visit to prison).

In neither case, would either company have entertained the idea of someone else infringing their patents or even coming close to matter how many lives, cat or human it could have saved. (Kyphon and Medtronic play the merry-go-round of suing each other)

More importantly, if individuals and companies are not allowed to protect and gain monetarily from their hardwork, they would have no motivation beyond their self. And we know how that would go....

Plus, doctors cannot be sued for using procedures, patented or otherwise (unless of course the doctors are not medical, or they are doing it to intentionally cause harm).

Summary: We have now reviewed a very poorly written article, that very poorly through its examples, fails to stand up to a very poor cause.

But who cares? Now "politicians" are looking at "patent reform". And we all know how that story will end...

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

FoxHollow: Now unveiling, new tricks to please a stock market near you...

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After sales languished for quite a while once it reached a peak of $200mn., this Redwood City company was dangerously close to being a sweet acquisition. In an attempt to stave this off, it went off on its own to try and appear larger than itself. This obviously hadn't paid off - if you observe their stagnant sales and stock.

So now, they seem to have finally given up the hopes of going it alone. They already have a partnership with ev3, so this marriage should not be so unfamiliar.

But will it pay off?

There have been quite a few ups and downs - the previous CEO left all too suddenly and quietly one day, the VP of sales left unable to push sales upwards, the strategy for NightHawk, one of their next generation products changed all of a sudden. Their other R&D efforts are yet to pay off..And then there is the somewhat questionable acquisition of Kerberos.... this is definitely one medical device company to watch and see if it can pick itself up...!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quick Update: BrainGate wins R&D 100 Award

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Cyberkinetics is a very interesting company with some very innovative technology, worth anyone's time and investment. The technology involves computer signals generated from direct neural processes, that is, thoughts. This amazing technology is used in assistive devices.

They have just won the R&D 100 award for this year, for the BrainGate technology.

Definitely a technology that deserves the award. Now we have to wait and see how the clinical trials for the technology pan out and what the implications for future treatments will be...

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bogus Research: Now, eating is a cause for cancer

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Idiocy has its own place and one of those places is not research, especially nutritional research. But heck, that is where there seems to be a concentration of really stupid people masking themselves as researchers doing some very idiotic things in the name of science...

This one is a serious competitor for the Darwin Awards and I would recommend it without skipping a beat. So these geniuses walked around town, for no rhyme or reason picking grapefruit as their chosen culprit, asking cancer patients if they ate grapefruits.

Having found that many women with breast cancer also eat grapefruits, they have concluded, hinted or whatever that grapefruits can cause cancer.

Let me extrapolate this "scientific technique".

No offense to anyone who is ill, but if I walked around and asked a 1000 diabetics if they eat or pee, knowing that the answer would be a 100% affirmative, I could conclude that eating and urinating are two very probable causes of diabetes, and patients should avoid both!

How did these "researchers" try to identify grapefruit as a link to breast cancer? Do they have any historic evidence? Are there any known chemicals that activate or deactivate any genes?

It is such irresponsible and reprehensible nonsense that populates medical research with a lot of scat that confounds, confuses and more importantly scares the general public through immaculate ineptness. Any efforts to bring such bogus researchers to justice is not in sight, atleast in the near future.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Babies: Another Medical Mystery

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This one could make for an interesting medical management problem. The article is a summary of a new study arising out of Stanford, concluding that babies born at night time are likelier to die than babies born during daytime.

There seem to be some interesting, fleeting connections to nurse-shift changes and such possibilities. Yet there has been no extensive scientific study into what goes on that causes these deaths.

There may be some interesting outcomes of an examination that may result in a good understanding and better neonatal care.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

A not too surprising relationship between Sleep Apnea and Preeclampsia

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Preeclampsia is a very dangerous condition occuring in pregnant women, leading to spikes in blood pressure, resulting in high risk to mother and foetus, weight gains and other complications.

In previous research I did, I was able to establish this vicious circle of links between sleep apnea, risk of stroke, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and even Alzheimer's!

Sleep Apnea causes disturbances in the sleep pattern, which consequentially leads to weight gain, and blood pressure rises. Since weight gain and blood pressure rises are also closely related, there is a compounding effect.

Hence I was not surprised to find the American Thoracic Society reporting this link.

If nothing, this should server as further motivation to find a quick solution to sleep apnea, and er, also improve the diagnosis rate to start with...

Link to summary of ATS Report:

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The ABC Breast Cancer Mystery continues....

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It is the irony of idiopathy. News coming in today represents the 15th employee at ABC in Australia who has suffered from breast cancer. Several experts of varying orders of expertise have looked at this problem and have come up high and dry with any answers.

What is the reason? Is there a significance to any radiation source on or near the site? Or is the equipment faulty? Where is the trigger coming from? Are there multiple triggers?

With today's other news, pointing to the fact that the presence or absence of BRCA genes does not greatly influence cancer news...something to be taken with a pinch of salt as of yet, how, if ever are we going to pinpoint the disease's origin among ABC employees?

If we don't solve this mystery, sadly, several such mysteries occuring in the future may go unsolved.

There is a very urgent need for some brainstorming and clear-cut strategic examination of the ABC employees, their working conditions and any other aspects that may or may not eventually point to a cause.

How about comparing breast cancer incidence among employees working in news room worldwide?

Sadly, a community that is supposed to trigger justice and answers through its journalistic vocation itself is unable to find any answers...

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Non-Surgical Sterilization: Essure gets a leg up from British Journal

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Conceptus's Essure might not be the most effective non - surgical sterilization, but it is definitely a successful first-in-line treatment strategy for minimally invasive alternatives to tubal ligation.

Here is a link to the British Journal Abstract from June 2007:

It is interesting to note the 92% success rate, but I am a bit baffled by the 4 - 5 day recovery period. Additional constraints on the device include an independent indication for success from normal uteri and the procedure being performed in the non-secretory phase of the menstrual cycle.

Definitely, there seems to be more room for improvement in the market. These improvements can come from: increased success rates, usability on varying uterine anatomies, and a NovaSure type "cycle blindness" - referring to the fact that the device can be used at any stage of the menstrual cycle.

Eventually, the success of Essure and similar devices will depend on OB/GYN practice moving from the OR to the office setting...

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Endometriosis: Finally some ground-breaking with new research

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Endometriosis is a disease that affects quite a number of women. Although only about 25% of them express symptoms, they can range anywhere from pain to infertility.

Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial, or endometrial-like tissue lodges itself in parts of the Woman's body outside the uterus, and has been noted all the way up in the brain in rare cases!

There has always been a link between endometriosis and certain types of uterine and extra-uterine cancer. So there is no new news in that, however.

It is sombre to note that not much research has been performed, especially at the basic level to understand the etiology of the disease. Hence, it is heartening to see new developments.

I perceive the interesting results from this study open up the chances for a medical treatment both preceding and following some type of simple surgical procedure that excises endometrial tissue to alleviate pain. There is also the possibility that these agonists can be delivered in-situ through a delivery device based approach.

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An Interesting medical device for pregnancies..inducing natural child birth

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Given the recent spate in medical device investments, sometimes one wonders where all the opportunities are. Every now and then, a fresh device (atleast to me) comes out of the realm of cardiovascular health, cerebrovascular health, etc. all of which have been beaten to death by devices, both good and bad...

Though this device doesn't stray too far from the emancipated plumbing equipment category such as stents and balloons, the application is quite interesting.

Cervical Ripening is key to a natural delivery, and can be very helpful in avoiding unwanted Cesarean procedures as well. The two balloon action in the two different anatomies is a simple and elegant solution.

Just the introduction of a device doesn't mean it is successful, and only time can tell how much the device is used, and how effective it is.

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