Setback for Medisys with glucose test kit

Stephen Foley
Tuesday 09 December 2003 01:00

Medisys, the Aberdeen-based medical devices company, has been forced to make changes to the design of its new glucose monitoring kit after last-minute tests carried out with its distribution partner, Wal-Mart.

The latest delay to the retail launch of the Flight product follows the debacle in September when Medisys sacked a separate distributor in a row over the quality of its retractable syringe.

Medisys also said yesterday that it had been forced to recall a mail order glucose test, Advance, in a move that swelled one-off charges in the company's annual results. At low glucose levels, its readings were wrong, and the product has since been replaced with a next-generation model.

In the year to 30 September, Medisys' losses fell from £33m a year ago to £5.7m, in large part as a result of falling research and development spending. Revenues from launched products - mainly diabetes monitoring kits for nursing homes - rose 10 per cent to £39.1m. Medisys shares were up 0.75p at 13.25p.

Michael Barry, the finance director, said that although Flight had been launched by Wal-Mart at a trade fair in August, it would not now be on sale in the shops until early in the New Year. "We are partnering with the largest retailer in the world, so we have to make sure the product is absolutely right and of the highest quality before it is shipped out," he said. "We have been testing the product to destruction and we have in the course of these tests identified a number of very minor tweaks that were necessary."

The "tweaks" are believed to involve resizing some of the plastic components of the test, and Medisys is confident the changes have now successfully been made. The episode has echoes of the problems that led to the sacking of Smiths Group as the distributor for the Futura safety syringe in September.

Last-minute tests of that product suggested difficulties with its use in hospitals, and Keith Butler-Wheelhouse, the chief executive of Smiths, told The Independent he had almost given up on the product. Medisys is still in legal dispute over a £1.1m payment it says it is owed by Smiths.

Medisys has decided to conduct a modest launch of Futura itself next year in an attempt to prove the product in clinical use before looking for a replacement marketing partner. Mr Barry said: "We want to get Futura launched so that we can have a lot more credibility. The more positive information we have on it, the better the possibility of cutting the right marketing deal."

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