Drug distributor Cardinal Health, Dublin, Ohio, will acquire Alaris Medical Systems, San Diego, a maker of medication-safety products, for about $2 billion, including the assumption of approximately $338 million of outstanding debt. The acquisition gives Cardinal a large stake in the intravenous drug-delivery market, especially outside the U.S., and arrives at a time when the national healthcare agenda is focused on eliminating medication errors. In addition to marketing IV systems, Alaris holds long-term contracts to provide related disposable products, which account for nearly two-thirds of its revenue, and provides training and technical services to more than 5,000 hospitals worldwide, officials said. The deal is expected to close by June 30. Alaris will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Cardinal. In response to the deal, Standard & Poor's put Alaris on CreditWatch with positive implications.
Separately, hospital alliance Premier said it has signed a letter of intent to buy eOptimus, a productivity management system, from GE Healthcare. Details of the contract are being worked out, Premier spokesman Hunter Kome said. Premier said the GE system could enhance Premier's Operations Advisor, a Web-based tool for improving operational performance. About 400 hospitals subscribe to Premier's service, which primarily aggregates staffing and labor productivity data, Kome said. -- by Cinda Becker