Wholesale prices for general acute-care hospitals rose 0.1% in September and were up a total of 5.3% from September 2002, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Producer Price Index. Prices for physician services rose 0.2% in September, up 1.9% for the 12-month period. Prices for all finished goods rose 0.3% and were up 1.2% from September 2002.
Universal sued by Texas city
The city of Edinburg, Texas, filed suit against Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pa., to stop the company from closing the obstetrical unit at its Edinburg Regional Medical Center. The city says the decision to close the unit breaches the city's September 1994 agreement to sell the hospital to Universal, which requires Universal to continue "at least the same level of inpatient and outpatient services" for 11 years. The hospital this month announced plans to consolidate obstetrical services at another Universal facility, McAllen (Texas) Medical Center, eight miles away. City attorney Daniel Rios said city officials were told the unit could close as soon as Nov. 1 and are concerned that nearby labor and delivery units are at capacity. In a news release, the hospital declined comment on the suit, which was filed in state district court, but said it has honored the agreement.
Tobacco funds shift
States are funneling roughly 36% of their 2003 tobacco settlement funds to health-related services and research, while 47% of the $7.9 billion total allotment is being used to pump up general budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Use of tobacco settlement money for nonhealth-related purposes has increased sharply; only 29% and 16% of the past two allotments were used for nonhealth-related purposes, the group said. All told, states have used more than $17.3 billion for health-related services and biomedical research out of the $39.4 billion in tobacco funds released over the past four years.
GE to acquire Amersham
General Electric Co. said it will acquire Amersham, a London-based life sciences company that makes diagnostic imaging agents, in an all-stock transaction worth about $9.5 billion. On completion of the deal, Sir William Castell, chief executive of Amersham, will become vice chairman and a board member of GE and chief executive officer of GE Healthcare Technologies, the combination of Amersham and GE Medical, based in the U.K. The acquisition promises to accelerate GE's development of molecular imaging and personalized medicine "where it will be possible to predict and treat disease with therapies tailored to the individual," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt in a news release. The deal, which requires regulatory approval in Europe and the U.S., is expected to close in the first half of 2004.