GE and Bracco spar over court ruling

April 2, 2009

The debate between GE and Bracco over GE’s marketing of its Visipaque contrast agent continues despite a U.S. District Court finding that GE used false advertising to win sales for the x-ray contrast agent.

The debate between GE and Bracco over GE's marketing of its Visipaque contrast agent continues despite a U.S. District Court finding that GE used false advertising to win sales for the x-ray contrast agent.

GE Healthcare is permanently enjoined from making such claims and must pay Bracco damages of $11.4 million. The ruling is a consequence of litigation begun six years ago by Bracco and settled in a New Jersey court last week. In the days after the decision, however, executives at the two companies gave markedly different interpretations of the significance of the case and the court's findings.

"The court found that there were some specific extrapolations that led to false advertising," said Eric Cantor, head of medical and professional affairs for GE Medical Diagnostics. "But the court in many ways found that the majority of GE Healthcare's messages were in fact true and were properly relied upon and were based on reliable scientific studies to support them."

Bracco chief executive Carlo Medici asserted that GE's false ads allegedly "generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for them." But how badly those ads hurt Bracco is difficult to judge. Medici, president and CEO of Bracco Diagnostics, noted that Isovue improved its position in the market from 2003 to the present. Thanks to the court ruling, it stands to gain even more.

"We now have 34% market share; one-third of the procedures in the U.S. use our product," he said. "Isovue is the number one brand in the U.S., and so we believe that our strategy in the marketplace has been successful, and now it is going to be confirmed and strengthened by this court's ruling."

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging and SearchMedica archives:

X-ray contrast case: Bracco wins $11.4 million in damages from GE