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What Matters February: MedTech News You Need to Know

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February 04, 2017

Overheard at GMM HQ

It's a little late to call them New Year's resolutions, but no one wants to be left out of the 'New Year, New Me' craze."– Valerie Barro, on the hot topics that six major medical associations are getting on board with in 2017.

WHAT THE INDUSTRY IS BUZZING ABOUT

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison are surely swelling with pride over their latest innovation, a penile implant fashioned from nickel-titanium alloy. The metal exoskeleton remains flaccid at body temperature but grows erect when heated, a marked improvement in functionality over existing options for treating erectile dysfunction.

JUST ADD HEAT

While existing implants either remain permanently erect or require a mood-killing pump to reach full salute, the NiTi model transitions easily to a locked and upright position with exposure to a temperature just slightly higher than body temperature, which can be achieved by waving a small heat-emitting remote control over it.

THE 411

While the lead researcher estimates that a commercially available model is still five to 10 years away, in the erectile dysfunction medical device world, things are looking up.

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BIG PHARMA SAT ON A WALL...

If President Trump wants to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out of America, it looks like his next promise might be to build a policy that keeps Big Pharma money in by banning tax inversions like those used by Allergan and Valeant, who both have international tax domiciles but operate within the U.S.

BIG PHARMA TOOK A GREAT FALL

Trump's recent remarks about Big Pharma, including stating that companies are "getting away with murder" and that "we have to get our drug industry coming back," sent stock prices plummeting. Directly following his speech, the nine biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap on the S&P 500 shed roughly $24.6 billion in 20 minutes.

THE 411

Big Pharma probably isn't panicking too much just yet. The drop in stock prices only represents a 3% decrease, and general consensus among industry execs is that a GOP presidency bodes well. If it doesn't though, we're about to see a serious (Twitter) drug war.

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TOYS ARE OUR FUTURE

Inspired by a simple children's toy called a whirligig, a newly developed "Paperfuge," constructed of two paper discs, a piece of string, and some tiny straws, has been shown to be powerful enough to separate plasma from whole blood as well as isolate malaria parasites. And all this time we thought they were just curiously fun to spin.

THROWING MOSQUITOS SHADE

The centrifuge, developed by frugal science pioneer Manu Prakash, could bring high tech lifesaving science to "a billion people who live with no infrastructure and resources." Oh yeah, and it costs about 20 cents to make. Malaria-carrying mosquitoes were not immediately available for comment, but are expected to be unhappy about the news.

THE 411

Sometimes less really is more. Low cost, human-powered instruments like the Paperfuge that can be used (and fixed) outside of sterile lab and academic environments represent viable solutions to real health crises across the world.

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GOOD TO KNOW

If you've been looking for a piece of good news, we've got it: Beer is good for you now. A six-year study found that moderate-to-heavy beer drinkers had a slower decline in HDL (a.k.a. good cholesterol) when compared with non-beer-drinks drinkers. We'll drink to that.

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