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Medtronic warns of battery issues with drug delivery pump

July 08, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Medtronic alerted physicians of battery issues with the device SynchroMed II Implantable Drug Infusion Pump. The pump delivers chronic pain and muscle-relaxing drugs.
Medtronic alerted physicians of battery issues with the device SynchroMed…

Not every electrical device can keep going and going. Take Medtronic’s SynchroMed II Implantable Drug Infusion Pump, for example. The batteries that power the implanted drug delivery device have been reported to fail, Medtronic announced Friday, though such occurrences are rare. 

The company said it first warned physicians of the battery problem in 2009. By the end of May, there had been 55 cases of “reduced battery performance” out of the nearly 140,000 pumps that have been implanted worldwide (about 4 in 10,000 devices). The pump is supposed to last up to 84 months; the battery failures have been occurring between 45 and 78 months.

The company said it will try to get a new battery design approved for the device but isn’t issuing a recall. 

The pump is used to deliver drugs such as baclofen, which relaxes muscles and prevents spasms in patients with spinal cord injuries or conditions such as cerebral palsy, as well as drugs for treating chronic pain. A catheter carries the drugs into the space around the spinal cord.

But sudden withdrawal of baclofen in particular can be life-threatening. Thus the company advises patients to get help immediately if they hear an alarm—and to always carry their patient identification cards.

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