The ink was barely dry on the acquisition papers that completed a $25
billion deal for Abbott Laboratories to buy St. Jude Medical.
Jan. 4—was met with news on Monday (Jan. 9) that the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concerns
that heart pacemakers and implanted defibrillators manufactured by St.
Jude’s are vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Abbott Laboratories moved to protect patients with its St. Jude heart
implants against possible cyberattacks, releasing a software patch on
Monday that the firm said will reduce the "extremely low" chance of them
The company disclosed the moves some five months after the U.S. government
launched a probe into claims the devices were vulnerable to potentially
life-threatening hacks that could cause implanted devices to pace at
potentially dangerous rates or cause them to fail by draining their
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A private investment firm— Muddy Waters Capital
—initially raised concerns about patient safety and the technology last
year. They were met however with denials from Abbott and St. Jude.
News in Connecticut reported Tuesday:
In August 2016, Muddy Waters founder Carson Block published a report
claiming St. Jude’s devices could be hacked and said he was shorting the
stock. St. Jude said the allegations were “absolutely untrue,” and in
September, it filed a lawsuit against the firm.
In a statement, Block said Monday’s announcement “vindicates” the firm’s
“It also reaffirms our belief that had we not gone public, St. Jude would
not have remediated the vulnerabilities,” Block said. “Regardless, the
announced fixes do not appear to address many of the larger problems,
including the existence of a universal code that could allow hackers to
control the implants.”
The Star Tribune
covered the news
as well, with a mention of branding and communication:
Abbott's announcement of the software patch was published under the old St.
"We've partnered with agencies such as the [FDA] and the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team
unit and are continuously reassessing and updating our devices and systems,
as appropriate," said a statement from Phil Ebeling, the St. Jude executive
who became chief technology officer for Abbott's cardiovascular-device
[Muddy Waters Capital] took a victory lap of sorts in public statements but
also expressed skepticism about St. Jude's new software update.
offered an update on how the Merlin@home Transmitter works with patients
"The update includes additional validation and verification between
Merlin@home devices and Merlin.net," according to a St Jude Medical press
Patients and their caregivers only need to make sure the transmitter
remains plugged in and connected to the Merlin.net network to receive the
update, the FDA notes.
The FDA also had
recommendations for physicians