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Elscint searches for partnersto market mammography system


Announcement surprises sales partner KramexIsraeli medical imaging vendor Elscint is looking for ways toimprove its position in the mammography market by partnering withother firms for sales and marketing and product R&D. The movemay be a

Announcement surprises sales partner Kramex

Israeli medical imaging vendor Elscint is looking for ways toimprove its position in the mammography market by partnering withother firms for sales and marketing and product R&D. The movemay be a sign that the Haifa company's existing relationship withKramex is cooling off.

Jacob Vortman, general manager of Elscint subsidiary ElscintecSystems, announced at this month's European Congress of Radiologymeeting in Vienna that the company is looking for a sales andmarketing partner for its MAM CH-22S mammography system.

The decision represents Elscint's desire to reestablish a presencein the mammography market. In the mid-1980s, Elscint held a largeshare of the U.S. market after acquiring the mammography businessof Pfizer. Elscint was unable to preserve that position, however,due to financial problems encountered in the late 1980s. It iscurrently a minor player in the U.S. market.

Elscintec's announcement was a surprise to Kramex of Garfield,NJ, which has had a semiexclusive agreement since 1992 to marketMAM CH-22S and its predecessor, MAM CH-22, according John Huss,Kramex CEO. MAM CH-22 is repackaged for sale by Kramex under theAviva trademark. Kramex introduced MAM CH-22S in late 1994 asthe Aviva S.

Huss believe the semiexclusive nature of the contract betweenElscint and Kramex means that no other company has a right tosell the MAM CH-22 series in the U.S.

"This announcement is a complete surprise to me,"Huss said. "We have received no communication from Elscintecabout its intentions."

Recent talks were held with officials at Elbit, Elron and Elscintecabout strengthening the relationship with Kramex, he noted. Elscintofficials said that the agreement with Kramex officially expiredlast year, although they are continuing to work with Kramex onan informal basis.

MAM CH-22S is based on an IBM-compatible 486 PC, which takesthe place of mechanical controls for such functions as exam parametersand system positioning. Elscint has also developed DigiMAM Plus,a digital spot mammography upgrade for MAM CH-22S. That optionis awaiting Food and Drug Administration clearance.

Kramex has yet to sell any MAM CH-22S units in the U.S., althoughHuss said that the system has sparked interest due to its computer-basedarchitecture.

"Because of the design of the system, it can be upgradedsimply by using software, and that is a major selling point,"Huss said. "We are seeing a second round of interest in it."

Elscint is negotiating with several candidates and hopes tohave an agreement signed this year, Vortman said. Such an agreementwould not necessarily replace the Kramex agreement, accordingto the company. In addition to a sales and marketing relationship,Elscintec is exploring possible financial partnerships to fundfuture mammography R&D.

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