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Baxter's V-Link Luer-Activated Device With VitalShield Protective Coating Now Available For Hospitals

DEERFIELD, Ill., April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Baxter Healthcare Corporation today announced its V-Link Luer-activated device (LAD) with VitalShield protective coating, the first needleless intravenous (IV) connector to contain an antimicrobial coating, is now available for hospitals in the United States and Canada. V-Link with VitalShield has been shown to kill on average 99.9 percent or more of specific common pathogens (infection-causing agents) known to cause catheter-related bloodstream infections. Pathogens can contaminate medical devices used to deliver IV fluids and medication to patients. The new antimicrobial coating helps to prevent contamination and growth of specific common pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

Baxter completed a pilot launch of V-Link with VitalShield with a select group of leading teaching institutions and hospitals in the U.S. and Canada and is now making the product available more broadly to customers throughout those regions. Baxter will expand to other global markets, including Europe and Australia, later this year.

"Improving patient safety is our number one goal, and this new technology can be used throughout hospitals to help prevent microbial contamination of the device and inhibit specific infection-causing agents from entering the bloodstream," said Camille Farhat, general manager of Global Infusion Systems, part of Baxter's Medication Delivery business. "The V-Link device is the newest addition to our broad line of needleless IV access products and furthers Baxter's mission to help healthcare providers create a safer environment for patients."

As part of Baxter's ongoing commitment to address the growing issue of healthcare-acquired infections, the company sponsored an educational symposium during this week's 18th annual Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) meeting that featured a panel of leading experts in the field of infectious diseases. At the symposium titled, "Battling Catheter-Related Bloodstream Infections: What Has Worked; What Is Now Needed," specialists from prominent institutions discussed the need for both improved technique and technology as a means to further reduce the risk of bloodstream infections.

About V-Link Luer-activated device with VitalShield protective coating

Many hospitalized patients need a steady supply of medications or fluids delivered into their bloodstream. Typically, an IV catheter is placed in a patient's vein to allow direct access to the bloodstream. In the process of injecting medications or fluids into a sterile line, surface or other environmental contaminants may be introduced. V-Link with VitalShield, a needleless IV connector used with the catheter or IV tubing, helps to prevent contamination and growth of specific pathogens within the device at the point of entry to the patient's bloodstream. Reduction in colonization or microbial growth on the device has not yet been studied to substantiate a reduction in bloodstream infections.

V-Link is uniquely coated on both inner and outer surfaces with a proprietary silver-based technology, called VitalShield. Silver is a well-known antimicrobial agent, and this specially designed formulation has been shown to be effective against a broad spectrum of microorganisms. The silver antimicrobial agent helps prevent the contamination and growth of these pathogens within the V-Link device. The antimicrobial agent is not intended to be used as a treatment for existing infections.

The V-Link LAD with VitalShield protective coating is the first introduction of Baxter's newly developed Vital Infusion Systems product line -- a new, integrated portfolio of products developed to promote safety and reliability, and decrease risks associated with IV therapy.

About Healthcare-Associated Bloodstream Infections

Researchers have estimated that more than 400,000 bloodstream infections occur each year in the U.S. alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2007 that MRSA infections cause an estimated 18,650 deaths per year in the U.S., which is more deaths in the U.S. per year than HIV/AIDS. As of October of this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will no longer reimburse U.S. hospitals for costs associated with bloodstream infections acquired in their hospitals.

Last month, the Public Health Agency of Canada released findings from a new report that showed the rate of people carrying MRSA has doubled in the past five years, and researchers estimate this has led to an estimated increase of $200-$250 million in related healthcare costs. According to the Canadian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Program, an estimated 220,000 Canadians develop healthcare-associated infections each year, leading to approximately 8,000 deaths annually -- more deaths than automobile accidents and breast cancer combined.

There are several types of healthcare-associated infections -- of these, bloodstream infections are the most costly and life-threatening, resulting in an average increase in mortality rate of 18 percent when compared to patients without a bloodstream infection. According to U.S. estimates, healthcare- associated bloodstream infections cost an average of $34,000 in increased direct hospital costs and can increase patient length-of-stays by 23 days.

Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities have developed extensive control programs to prevent the occurrence of infections. Even when clinicians in hospitals do their best to practice good hygiene techniques, the risk of pathogen contamination may still persist.

About Medication Delivery

For more than 75 years, Baxter has pioneered products designed to help reduce errors throughout the medication management process by improving the interface between technology and clinicians. For example, to help prevent accidental needle-stick injuries, Baxter introduced the industry's first "needleless" IV access system. Baxter will be introducing a new, integrated portfolio of infusion pumps and administration sets, designed to promote increased security and confidence in delivery of IV medications.

About Baxter

Baxter Healthcare Corporation is the principal U.S. operating subsidiary of Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX). Baxter International Inc., through its subsidiaries, assists healthcare professionals and their patients with the treatment of complex medical conditions, including cancer, hemophilia, immune disorders, kidney disease and trauma. The company applies its expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to make a meaningful difference in patients' lives.

SOURCE Baxter Healthcare Corporation
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