May 8, 2006

ECRI, a leading independent medical products testing organization, is suing Guidant in Federal District Court in Pennsylvania, ECRI announced today. ECRI is asserting its right under the First Amendment to publish comparisons of prices that are paid by hospitals for medical devices. The organization is asking the court to rule on whether ECRI can reject Guidant's claim that its publication of prices paid by hospitals is forbidden.

The healthcare community must be able to engage in comparative shopping based on the safety, performance, and cost of medical products, ECRI said. The Guidant policy conflicts with the current push for price transparency to allow patients, physicians, and hospitals to assess the value of medical products and services, it added.

"In our opinion, Guidant's actions would give far too much power to manufacturers," said Jeffrey Lerner, ECRI's president and CEO.

Guidant was acquired by Boston Scientific, which cleared its final regulatory hurdle when it received antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for its proposed merger with Guidant in late April. Abbott completed acquisition of Guidant's vascular business April 21. It is unclear whether the Guidant policy being challenged by ECRI will be amended by Boston Scientific or if the new parent company will attempt to satisfy ECRI's demand for transparency. Boston Scientific did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit by press time.