Medisys up as launch date for safe syringe announced

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The Independent Online

Medisys, the medical devices group whose products have been plagued by delays and disasters, will finally launch its flagship product, the Futura safety syringe, within a fortnight.

The device, whose needle is pulled back inside the syringe with a rubber band to stop hospital staff pricking themselves, has passed last minute tests carried out by Smith Group, which will market the product in the lucrative US market.

The news sent Medisys shares soaring 16 per cent to 19.75p. They were worth 166p in 2000, when the Futura syringe was supposedly just months away from launch.

The product has been plagued by problems in development and manufacturing and even last November its launch was pulled at the last minute. Tests by Smiths then revealed defects which "in extreme circumstances, could affect its performance in certain clinical uses". The tests passed by Futura yesterday showed that minor changes to the design had been successful.

However, there will be no significant sales of Futura before the end of Medisys' financial year in September as Smiths plans a soft launch. It will distribute the syringe to "selected clinical facilities", David Conn, the Medisys chief executive, said yesterday. The product will be used in routine procedures throughout the chosen clinics and "will afford Smiths a valuable opportunity to obtain independent feedback prior to the wider market launch".

A number of small UK companies have battled to design revolutionary syringes after the US - the world's biggest health market - introduced legislation to encourage the use of safer products so hospital workers are less likely to prick themselves. All have been plagued by delays. NMT abandoned the race entirely, saying it would try to sell its needleless syringe to drug companies, rather than direct to hospitals, while PowderJect Pharmaceuticals, recently sold to Chiron of the US, turned itself into a vaccines manufacturer.

Medisys, which also makes diabetes testing kits, lost £1.9m last year and needs sales of Futura to come through quickly if it is not to breach its £5m overdraft.

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