Specter of MRI Disease Haunts GE

Jeff Gerth,

In May 2006, medical regulators in Denmark issued a warning that signaled trouble for General Electric. Danish researchers noted that, over a four-year period, 25 patients in Denmark and Austria had suffered a rare and crippling disease after undergoing an MRI, the scanning procedure used to diagnose everything from brain tumors to blown knees. The patients had been injected with a GE dye that makes images more distinct. They all had weak kidneys before receiving the dye.

The GE product, Omniscan [1], has since been linked to other cases of the disease, which appears to affect only MRI patients who have kidney problems. Similar drugs made by Bayer and others have also been tied to the sometimes fatal ailment, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis [2] (NSF).

Some regulators and researchers in the U.S. and Europe have found that a disproportionate number of NSF cases are associated with GE’s Omniscan [3]. That threatens to create a costly liability mess for the company’s growing $17 billion health-care division, which GE promotes heavily with its "Healthymagination [4]" ad campaign. The company’s diagnostic products generate about $1.8 billion in sales. GE doesn’t provide financial figures on Omniscan.

source and complete article: ProPublica.org

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