Abbot laboratories withdraws 4,65,000 pacemakers to install a software update in the devices

Abbott Laboratories, a key U.S. based player in the healthcare device manufacturing industry, has declared the withdrawal of 4,65,000 pacemakers to install a software update with a view to shield them against a potential set of vulnerabilities. The withdrawal is likely to impact six of its pacemaker prototypes, including Accent ST, Accent, Anthem, Accent MRI, Allure, and Assurity. The U.S. FDA put in a formal request to the firm for recalling all its pacemakers – a move that will necessitate patients fitted with the pacemakers to visit their medical practitioners or vice versa. As per reports from reliable sources, device users are advised to pay a visit to the hospital ASAP for updating their pacemakers with this novel software that will offer protection against premature battery drain, hackers, and cyber-attacks that alter programmed settings and device rhythms.

The U.S. FDA has studied the software operations and provided the green signal for its installation in the pacemakers after acknowledging the firmware’s ability to restrict the transmission of unencrypted information to the devices. The organization has also assured the end-users that the escalating deployment of software and wireless technologies in the medical equipment such as pacemakers will offer effective, apt, and fitting healthcare services.

In a letter to physicians, the U.S. portable medical devices market behemoth stated that the software update requires three minutes to download and install in the pacemaker, which operates in the backup mode during the period. According to the firm, pacemakers manufactured on 28th August 2017 will be equipped with the software update and patients are cautioned against physically replacing the new devices. This is the second such occasion during which the company has delivered an update pertaining to cybersecurity issues of its Merlin @ home devices. Earlier in 2016, the firm had installed a software update in the instruments to address its cybersecurity concerns after the complete purchase of St. Jude, which provided Abbott its pacemakers.

However, Abbott has cautioned the patients about the risks occurring during software updating, which includes total update failure, loss of program settings, device functionality loss, and diagnostic data loss. It has also warned the users of total functionality loss, though the figure is in minority - around 0.003%. To address the same, the firm has addressed the medical fraternity that patients who totally depend on pacemakers should be provided with temporary pacemakers and generators.

As per the discussions rampant in business circles, there is no news pertaining to cyberattacks targeting any equipment. The Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team has also claimed that it will take quite some expertise on the part of the hacker to hack the device due to the update installation.

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Dhananjay Punekar

Dhananjay develops content for Market Size Forecasters. A post graduate in mathematics as well as business administration, he worked as a process executive in Infosys BPO Limited before switching his professional genre. Following his childhood passion, he opted for a career in writing and now pens d...

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