Revolutionary endoscope from Sony-Olympus JV arrives for market

Japan's Sony announced that what it claims is a revolutionary ultrahigh-definition endoscope system, developed since 2013 with Olympus, will reach markets in Japan and Europe next month.

The device will be sold by a joint venture firm, Sony Olympus Medical Solutions, under the brand name Visera 4K UHD for use in delicate surgical procedures that include work on internal organs by employing a unique light source, a state-of-the-art device and a specialized monitor, Sony said in a press release.

Sony holds 11.5% of Olympus following a cash injection to the company in 2012 when an accounting review uncovered fraud and sent the company's shares into a tailspin.

In the interim, Olympus has lined up with national government aims to grow medical device sales abroad. The company has moved deeper into the area even as it faces lawsuits and probes in the U.S. over "superbug" infections as a result of the inadequate sterilization of its duodenoscope product.

Fujifilm Holdings and Pentax also face lawsuits and federal investigations over sterilization issues.

Still, Olympus dominates the market for gastrointestinal endoscopes with a 70% share, according to Reuters, but lags U.S. rival Stryker ($SYK) and Germany's Karl Storz GmbH & Co in surgical endoscopes used in minimally invasive surgery.

Sony Olympus Medical Solutions has combined image sensors, image and signal processing, optical transmission and 4K imaging from Sony with medical community knowledge from Olympus, Sony said in the release. The company is also using Olympus' advanced optics technologies, primarily in its ultra-telescope and xenon light source.

Olympus TJF-Q180V Duodenoscope--Courtesy of Olympus Australia

The manufacture of the device will be handled by Olympus Medical Systems, the release said, adding that the unit has "undergone a strategic group reorganization in order to target a business expansion, resulting in the majority of Olympus Medical Systems Corporation's functions being assumed by Olympus as of April 1, 2015."

In August, the U.S. FDA slapped Japan's Olympus with a warning letter after the discovery of new cases of infections linked to a deadly "superbug" that were not reported in proper time or procedure, press reports and the agency said.

Olympus did not report 16 infections in patients who underwent procedures with the company's scope in 2012 until this year, the FDA said in a warning letter released on Monday.

The New York Times noted that medical device manufacturers need to file reports on serious problems within 30 days of discovery, adding that the FDA found the company did not have such a procedure in place.

- here's the story from Reuters
- and the release from Sony