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Patients Call for Continued FDA Preemption Authority

FDA Best Positioned to Review Medical Technology

WASHINGTON, May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Patients from across the country came to Washington, D.C., to share their stories about how medical technology has helped improve or save their lives in advance of a May 12 U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on the Medical Device Safety Act of 2009, legislation to repeal the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) preemption authority.

"Without my medical device, I would not be here today," said Laura Doud of Arlington, Virginia, who received life-saving implantation of cardiac resynchronization therapy with defibrillation in 2004 after suffering almost fatal viral cardiomyopathy. "If the proposed legislation were passed, would the lawsuits facing inventors and manufacturers prevent devices like mine or future medical innovations from ever making it to patients like me?"

"Every day millions of patients' lives are saved or enhanced thanks to innovative and safe medical technology," said Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of AdvaMed. "Unfortunately, you are not likely to hear these patients' stories in tomorrow's hearing."

Ubl added, "The Supreme Court's 8-1 decision in Riegel v. Medtronic foreshadowed what we will see in courtrooms and what we will see in the hearing tomorrow -- that the thousands of patients who have benefited from these technologies will not be considered."

The 8-1 majority Supreme Court decision asks, "How many more lives will be saved by a device which, along with its greater effectiveness, brings a greater risk of harm? A jury, on the other hand, sees only the cost of a more dangerous design, and is not concerned with its benefits; the patients who reaped those benefits are not represented in court."

Patients came to Washington from across the country to explain the importance of medical devices in saving and enhancing their lives, and to speak out about protecting access to devices now and in the future. In addition to Laura Doud, medical device beneficiaries who attended the briefing include:

  • Adam Hammond, from Columbus, Ohio, a former U.S. Army Officer and Golden Knights parachutist who suffered life-threatening injuries when his parachute failed to open. He can now walk and function again without severe and debilitating chronic pain after receiving a neurostimulator.
  • Tom Price, a long-distance runner from Syracuse, New York, was unable to run more than a mile due to calcification and severe regurgitation in his bicuspid aortic valve. After aortic valve replacement, he has resumed his active lifestyle.
  • Mike Roman, from St. Louis, Missouri, a world-class race car driver who received a spinal cord stimulator to treat the constant, debilitating pain he felt after losing his leg to infection.
  • Olivia Vervaeke, a senior from Detroit, Michigan, graduating this week from the University of Notre Dame, born with a congenital heart defect that severely worsened in high school. Olivia required an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in 2005.

The patients emphasized how critical it was for them to have access to devices when they needed them most.

"This device saved my life," said Olivia Vervaeke, who is graduating from college on Sunday, May 17 but took a break from wrapping up her final days at Notre Dame to come to Washington to tell her story. "I can run five miles a day now; I could never do that before."

"We should be working to strengthen FDA resources so more medical devices can be made and improved -- not make it more difficult for patients to access them," said Tom Price, who has run multiple half- and full-marathons less than two years after his aortic valve replacement surgery.

"I tried medicine, surgeries and even older technology without success. Thanks to continued research and innovation, I was able to receive a spinal cord stimulator that finally relieved my pain," said Roman, who uses his professional racing efforts to inform chronic pain sufferers that there is hope and they are not alone. "We need to preserve innovations for others like me."

Patients also expressed concern about turning the review of their complex medical devices, which can often take years of scientific and regulatory oversight, over to states and courtrooms that lack the necessary expertise and budgets.

"How does a lawyer or a judge or a jury know more than my doctor, the FDA or the engineers who invented and developed the medical device that gave me back my life?" said Adam Hammond, who is the first person in the world to be implanted with an Eon Mini neurostimulator.

"This legislation does not in any way improve patient safety," concluded Mr. Ubl. "It will only restrict patient access to essential medical technologies, produce a chilling effect on medical innovation, create more lawsuits and ultimately result in higher health care costs for all Americans. We can't let that happen."

The patients will remain in Washington for tomorrow's hearing and meet with their members of Congress about the importance of protecting access to safe and effective medical devices.

AdvaMed member companies produce the medical devices, diagnostic products and health information systems that are transforming health care through earlier disease detection, less invasive procedures and more effective treatments. Our members produce nearly 90 percent of the health care technology purchased annually in the United States and more than 50 percent purchased annually around the world. AdvaMed members range from the largest to the smallest medical technology innovators and companies. For more information, visit

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