Fall River firm markets new diagnostic tool

Grant Welker

Physicians Resource Network Inc., a South End medical supply distributor, has been given permission to market the Vicorder, a new diagnostic system that helps diagnose peripheral vascular disease.

The distributor, known as PRN, announced Wednesday it received marketing clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to distribute the Vicorder throughout North and South America.

The Vicorder measures blood flow using small probes attached to extremities like the big toe. The probes and digitally-controlled blood pressure cuffs are connected to a small laptop that displays to a doctor readings on the patient’s blood flow rates to different areas of the body.

PRN has only three employees at its 218 Shove St. headquarters, and employs two more in a New York office. But it buys and sells reconditioned equipment across the globe, often purchasing from hospitals updating their equipment and selling to places like China or South America, said president Robert B. Gaw. It also occasionally donates equipment to charities, especially those in poor countries, he said.

Getting clearance from the FDA is not easy because of the administration’s strict guidelines, Gaw said. PRN and Skidmore Medical, which manufactures the Vicorder in Britain, spent three years and more than $1 million getting the product to market, he added. PRN is looking for representatives to market the Vicorder to hospitals and doctor offices in North and South America.

PRN has been in the business since 1983 and works out of a 10,000-square-foot warehouse. It created PRN Vascular, a subsidiary, to distribute the Vicorder and expects the product to be a big part of the company’s overall sales because of an increased awareness of peripheral vascular disease and stroke prevention, Gaw said. The new subsidiary will be made up of sales representatives, as many as 25, throughout the country.

As a private company, it did not give specific details on how many units it expects or sell or how much money it could generate. But at full capacity, Skidmore Medical and PRN could produce and sell 250 to 300 units a year in the United States, Gaw said.

PRN is the only company with the license to distribute the Vicorder. There are a few similar vascular testing systems on the market, Gaw said. Cardiologists, vascular surgeons and hospitals are the most likely buyers, he added.

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