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Medical Device Manufacturer Guidant Charged in Failure to Report Defibrillator Safety Problems to FDA
Date:2/25/2010

from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding catastrophic failures in some of its lifesaving devices. The charges were filed following a four-year investigation into Guidant's handling of short-circuiting failures of three models of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs): the Ventak Prizm 2 DR (Model 1861) and the Contak Renewal (Models H135 and H155). Guidant issued safety advisories regarding the failures in June 2005.

ICDs are lifesaving devices used to detect and treat abnormal heart rhythms that can result in sudden cardiac death, one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States. The devices, once surgically implanted, constantly monitor the electrical activity in a patient's heart for deadly electrical rhythms and deliver an electrical shock to the heart in an effort to return the heartbeat to normal. If they fail to operate properly when needed, a person can die within minutes.

The information alleges that beginning in 2002, Guidant became aware that one of its ICDs, the Ventak Prizm 2 DR, was prone to electrical arcing, rendering the device inoperative and unable to deliver life-saving therapy to the patient in whom it was implanted. Guidant changed the design of the Prizm 2 in November 2002 to correct the problem. The information charges that in August 2003, Guidant falsely told the FDA that the design changes did not affect the device's safety or effectiveness. In fact, the device chang
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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