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MDMA Founding Chairman Thomas "Tommy" C. Thompson Passes Away

Friday, November 14, 2014  
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MDMA Founding Chairman Thomas “Tommy” C. Thompson Passes Away

WASHINGTON, DC -- It is with great sadness that the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) learned that Thomas “Tommy” C. Thompson, the association’s Founding Chairman and longtime Board Member, passed away last week at the age of 76.

“Tommy Thompson was a passionate leader and a tireless mentor whose central focus was to improve the human condition and support America’s medical technology ecosystem,” said Mark Leahey, President and CEO of MDMA.  “Many of the breakthroughs and cutting-edge research that are being developed today are a direct result of the groundwork Tommy laid over the years in federal policy.  The numerous inventions and technologies made by the companies he led during his storied career continue to make a difference in the lives of patients throughout the world, and our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”

Thompson was the leader of several medical technology start-ups including Vicra, which was acquired by Baxter, Quest Medical, a public company that designed, developed, manufactured and marketed proprietary medical products and became ANS (Advanced Neuromodulation Systems) which was acquired by St Jude Medical, and most recently Neuro Resource Group, Inc. (NRG).

Thompson joined with a group of innovators in 1992 to establish MDMA with the belief that the innovative and entrepreneurial sector of the industry needed a strong and independent voice in the nation's capital.  What started as a handful of medical technology companies has grown to nearly 300 members across the United States.

Thompson’s stewardship of the association is credited with driving countless policies and regulations that improved patient care and innovation.  He played a key role throughout the 1990s advocating that FDA needed to become more efficient and effective, rather than simply having industry pay millions in user fees.  As a result of this effort, Congress passed the FDA Modernization Act of 1997 which had immediate results in streamlining the premarket review of medical devices, without a user fee. Ten years later, when Congress eventually passed MDUFA, it included fee relief for smaller companies, defined in 2005 as companies under $100M in annual revenues. Tommy was also a tireless advocate to ensure patients and physicians had access to the technologies they needed.  This included supporting efforts to reform hospital group purchasing organizations (GPOs).  

“It is said that all innovators stand on the shoulders of the legends that precede them, and one of these legendary giants is Tommy Thompson,” said Paul Touhey, former Chairman and MDMA Board Member.  “We have all lost a selfless advocate who dedicated his life to ensuring that those who followed him would be better able to address the challenges in health care.   While we will all grieve Tommy’s passing, his hard work and passion were the embodiment of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit our industry is known for, and he continues to serve as an inspiration to many.”