GE boycott ends, victory declared

April 7, 1993

General Electric maintains that it sold its Aerospace Divisionto Martin Marietta because of negative business trends in thedefense industry. But Infact, a self-styled corporate accountabilitygroup, declared victory last week at the closing of the

General Electric maintains that it sold its Aerospace Divisionto Martin Marietta because of negative business trends in thedefense industry. But Infact, a self-styled corporate accountabilitygroup, declared victory last week at the closing of the military-relatedsale. Infact greeted the sale by calling an end to its seven-yearboycott of GE.

Termination of this public relations ordeal will be a reliefto GE Medical Systems, which bore the brunt of market reactionagainst its parent.

Although the Infact-coordinated boycott was aimed at GE's participationin the nuclear arms industry, pressure on GE's medical imagingbusiness was a main weapon. Hospitals, especially those with religiousaffiliations, were the largest supporters of the boycott. Infactclaims that GE lost $50.5 million in medical sales to competitorsover the life of the boycott.

Some hospitals have gone on record as saying they chose notto buy from GE because of the boycott (SCAN 10/25/89). But provingan economic impact from lost sales is a nebulous effort at best.GE Medical Systems' total annual revenue is about $3.5 billion.

Boston-based Infact listed 33 medical institutions that, asof last October, had been "influenced" in their purchasingdecisions by GE's involvement with nuclear weapons. Six institutionswere not listed by name, with entries such as "hospital inthe northwestern U.S." Three hospitals and clinics in Europewere included in the list. The rest are in the U.S.

GE Medical Systems' "ledger of loss," or the valueof systems allegedly purchased from competitors because of theboycott, was broken down by Infact into imaging modalities asfollows:

  • MRI, $17.7 million;

  • CT, $10.9 million;

  • cardiac catheterization labs, $7 million; and

  • ultrasound, $863,000.

Infact clearly won several psychological victories during theboycott. Four years ago, Physicians for Social Responsibilityendorsed the boycott. PSR is an affiliate of International Physiciansfor the Prevention of Nuclear War, which received the Nobel PeacePrize in 1985. Infact won an Academy Award last year for bestdocumentary short subject for its film entitled Deadly Deception:General Electric, Nuclear Weapons, and Our Environment (SCAN 4/8/92).

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Philips Medical Systems North America hired away a topGE Medical Systems marketing executive this month and in the processconsolidated marketing responsibilities across modalities.

Jack Price, formerly vice president of GE's global x-ray businessheadquartered at GE-CGR in Paris, will serve as vice presidentof marketing for Shelton, CT-based PMSNA, effective April 19.Michael P. Moakley, PMS worldwide president and CEO, is also aformer top GE Medical Systems manager.

Price will fill what used to be two positions, according toJohn H. Carroll, vice president of human resources. Ronald Fritchley,former vice president of x-ray marketing, is on a two-year assignmentat PMS world headquarters in Best, the Netherlands. He will serveas product manufacturing group director for x-ray systems. PhilipJ. Griswa, vice president of sales, has left the company. Griswawas formerly responsible for CT, MR and radiation therapy products.

  • Independent Scintillation Imaging Systems (ISIS) of Lachine,Quebec, received U.S. 510(k) marketing approval from the Foodand Drug Administration in February for its non-Anger nuclearmedicine camera, now called First. No clinical beta sites areyet established in Canada or the U.S., although ISIS hopes tohave the first sites functioning soon. Ten First cameras are inproduction.

Last month, ISIS investor Park Meditech of Toronto reportedthat its wholly owned Bartec Medical Systems has been grantedfive-year exclusive licenses to market the First camera in theU.K., Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Exclusive salesin Austria and Switzerland will be initiated by BMS in three years.BMS also licensed medical software to ISIS for use with the camera.Park Meditech owns 39% of ISIS.

The First camera converts analog nuclear signals to digitalform within individual photomultiplier tubes, thus enhancing itsability to position and measure the nuclear event (SCAN 9/23/92and 2/10/93).