Synthes reports profit jump of 6.5 percent in 2011

Synthes, Inc., the medical device manufacturer with operations in Chester County, reported that it increased profit by 6.5 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.

The company stock is traded on the Swiss stock exchange and its earnings announcement was released before markets opened in Europe.

In 2010, Synthes' chairman and major shareholder Hansjorg Wyss and company leaders solicited bids to buy the company and in April 2011, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would pay $21.3 billion for Synthes in hopes of strengthening its presence in market for fixing broken bones.

The J&J-Synthes deal has not closed yet. European Commission anti-trust investigators have said they will report on the merger by April 2.

Also in 2010, Synthes and its wholly-owned subsidiary Norian paid about $24 million in penalties to settle criminal charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department via the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia for the illegal promotion and testing of bone cement from May 2002 to May 2004.

Without U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a clinical trial, Synthes provided and trained doctors to use the bone cement, which was injected into the spines of patients. Three patients died on the operating table. Four executives were sent to prison late in 2011 for their roles in the promotion and trial. Such prison sentences are rare in healthcare fraud cases.

Synthes said its profit increased from $907.7 million in 2010 to $966.8 million in 2011. The profit increase was driven by global revenue of nearly $4 billion.

Michel Orsinger is president and CEO of Synthes, and he will move to a new position with J&J.

"In spite of the challenging market environment, we continued to expand our emerging markets' business, especially in Asia Pacific, and experienced success in more mature markets in Europe," Orsinger said in a statement released by the company. "As a result, the company's balance sheet remains strong, including a record level of cash. After the anticipated close of the merger with Johnson & Johnson, we will be even better prepared to tackle emerging trends in the changing healthcare environment and serve our surgeons and patients with a more comprehensive product portfolio."