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Dec 31 2017

GE sees higher compact ultrasound sales

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GE sees higher compact ultrasound sales

(New after third paragraph; adds byline)

By Scott Malone

BOSTON, Dec 10 The health care arm of General Electric Co ( GE.N ) expects its sales of laptop-sized compact ultrasound machines to reach $265 million this year and to increase by 30 percent to 40 percent in 2008.

“It’s a very high-growth sector,” Omar Ishrak, president and chief executive of GE Healthcare’s clinical systems unit, said in a telephone interview. “We see continued growth in this segment, and we see continued acceptance by new users of ultrasound.”

GE on Monday unveiled a new line of lower-cost compact ultrasound machines designed for specific applications, such as anesthesiology and emergency medicine.

The portable specialized units will sell for $25,000 to $50,000, depending on configuration, less than the $70,000 to $90,000 cost of general-purpose compact machines, Ishrak said. Full-sized units are typically priced around $130,000 to $150,000.

The U.S. Deficit Reduction Act, which has cut back on reimbursement rates for imaging procedures for diagnostic purposes, has hurt that part of GE’s business. Ishrak said ultrasound machines designed to facilitate specialized procedures, like anesthesiology, would be less susceptible to that pinch.

“In these markets, where ultrasound is an aid to some more expensive and bigger procedure, ultrasound becomes less sensitive or less dependent on reimbursement changes, because something else is really driving the use of ultrasound,” he said.

GE, the second-largest U.S. company by market capitalization, expects its health care unit to report $17 billion in revenue in this year and for that number to grow another 5 percent to 7 percent in 2008.

GE’s main competitors in the medical imaging industry are Germany’s Siemens AG ( SIEGn.DE ) and Dutch Philips Electronics NV ( PHG.AS ). In compact ultrasound machines, it competes most closely with SonoSite Inc SONO.O.

GE and SonoSite have sued one another, charging patent infringement.

(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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