Aircraft Medical lands £25m US deal for pioneering device

AN Edinburgh-based firm has won a US contract, potentially worth up to £25 million, to distribute its pioneering device which makes it easier to take control of a patient's breathing when they are under anaesthetic.

Aircraft Medical, which specialises in airway and handheld medical devices, has signed a five-year agreement with the United States company.

The firm, which has its headquarters at St Andrew Square, is to distribute its state-of-the-art video laryngoscope on the other side of the Atlantic with LMA North America.

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The agreement will also see Aircraft Medical and LMA North America join together in a joint marketing plan.

The McGrath Laryngoscope was launched in March after experts at Aircraft Medical spent five years perfecting it.

The laryngoscope's inventor Matt McGrath described it as the "Bang & Olufsen of the medical devices world", a reference to the state-of-the-art hi-fi manufacturer regarded as among the world's best. The laryngoscope allows hospital staff and paramedics to intubate patients more easily without damaging teeth, tissue or vocal chords. In some cases, botched intubations can cause brain damage and even death.

Mr McGrath, who was named John Logie Baird Young Innovator of the Year in 2001 and is now chief executive of Aircraft Medical, founded the company in 2001 after starting work on the design two years earlier as part of a university degree course.

He said: "I am delighted to announce our first major distribution agreement with LMA North America, who have an exceptional track record and we believe are the leading brand in airway management in the United States today.

"We now look forward to making appointments for distribution in other international markets. Parallel with this, we are also working on expanding our product range and would hope to make announcements on that in due course."

Currently, intubation in adults is attempted almost exclusively with the Macintosh laryngoscope - a design dating back to the 1940s.

Aircraft Medical hopes its new design, which features a single-use adjustable blade and integrated video screen and runs off just one AA battery, will reduce the risks associated with the intubation process.

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John Pool, chairman of Aircraft Medical, said "many years of very hard work" were now coming to fruition.

"We believe we have a world class product which will have global appeal. The company is ideally positioned to grow," he said.

LMA North America is the US subsidiary of LMA International, which is listed on the Singapore stock exchange and is the global leader in the development and marketing of LMA laryngeal products.

Paul Molloy, chief operations officer at LMA International, said: "LMA is very excited about the alliance with Aircraft Medical. The products are innovative."