Breaking News re: Sonova’s Advanced Bionics

latest comment at the never ending “People of the Eye” blog thread Sonova’s Shares Shake and AG Bell Quakes or Rattles and Rolls?

(ADDED at bottom of this entry – a comment that Dan S posted in the Sonova’s Shares Shake thread in addition to the Breaking News comment he posted too just in case folks want to see it and not have to scroll down past the 450 + comments there – i know it loads wickedly slow.  His other comment is important and has some links that might be informative)

BREAKING NEWS: Advanced Bionics lays off 150 100 + employees in the wake of the FDA Recall, including longtime field support staff.  Details to be posted as they become available

11:15 PM January 14, 2011

UPDATE 1: We have received additional reports after the first one received Friday 11:00PM  that the number of layoffs is “slightly over 100.”

There is an UPDATE 2 at about an Advanced Bionics audiologist dissing the editor of that site and saying his claim of the layoffs is “absolutely false” and some other crash crap. 

The editor Dan Schwartz has kinda been attacked by a commenter and now an audiologist.  Fun fun fun.  Aint free speech grand!?  Dan’s response is: wow wee if Sovona is lying and covering up these layoffs – ohhhh are they in trouble with the Zurich Exchange

so its a bit of a drama there folks. Not sure what is what but we will see see – shall we?

UPDATE MORE: Wall Street Journal just confirmed that job cuts are happening at Advanced Bionics as a result of the CI recall

go to The Hearing Blog to see the full update and for more past information with primary documents and live links about the most recent recall of Sovona Advance Bionic’s HiRes 90K due to failing hot

Advanced Bionics (a US based Cochlear Implant co.) has had a rocky history and been shuffled around to various companies with various key players.

Advanced Bionics has had SEVERAL recalls and a past lawsuit on behalf of the FDA which resulted in Advanced Bionics being fined over one million dollars and their CEO $75,000 due to their CI having a sealant leak resulting in shocks (see link below)

It also produced a CI with a positioner which contributed to some meningitis cases post surgery resulting in serious illnesses, complications, and deaths (see link below)

Before Thanksgiving Sovona (the current owner of Advanced Bionics) released a press notice to business outlets alerting them to the most recent recall in an attempt to allay fears and not see shares be affected – to no avail.

See Wall Street Journal Sonova Shares Tumble on Hearing Implant Recall

See Sonova Falls Most in Two Years on Ear Implant Recall

See 2008 Lawsuit article  New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg files suit against bionic ear manufacturer

FDA notice CI with Positioner Poses Continuing Meningitis Threat

Now the latest news is Advanced Bionics is laying off 150 100 employees?

A person very familiar with recalls, prosthesis industries, safety, reliability and lawsuits once told me “if a hip replacement or pacemaker company had as many problems as Advanced Bionics has had, they would be CLOSED DOWN BY NOW.”

Stay tune folks.

We shall see what we shall see.

Dan S. thanks for the comment with the latest breaking news and for covering this very important situation.



ADDED (copied and pasted from the Sonvona Share’s thread)

Hello all.

I’m Dan Schwartz, Editor of The Hearing Blog and author of Failing Ugly: Advanced Bionics cochlear implant circuit goes haywire and
Failing Ugly II: More on the Advanced Bionics Recall, and I’d like to bring all of you up to date on our investigation of the Advanced Bionics HiRes-90k implanted electronics module failures.

Right now, just bits and pieces are trickling in, as AB has pretty much gone into lockdown. However, one piece of manufacturing information has been divulged that is absolutely stunning: The lack of any completed unit burn-in.

What is burn-in, why is it important; and most saliently, how it could have prevented this recall.

Since my third article in the series is “in the typewriter” I’m going to be lazy tonight and simply give you the wikipedia article on burn-in, as it’s pretty close:

Also, the article references a “bathtub curve” article which has a flaw:
The red “infant mortality” curve is correct, as is the yellow “wear out failures” at the end of the service life. However, the area in the middle is third should be much longer, as infant mortality is a matter of a week or two; and wear out is measured in years, even decades for CI implant electronics.

I’ll post here when the third article in the series is published.

Also, to the blogger who runs this site, please contact me either by leaving a comment on The Hearing Blog or via email at Dan at Snip period Net


14 thoughts on “Breaking News re: Sonova’s Advanced Bionics

  1. This is a tragedy, that many people are affected from the patients all the way up to the corporate executives and the parent company and its investors. All because of the human desire to have hearing and to have their children hear.

    Deaf people have proven thousands of times in the past that hearing isn’t necessary for success and independence. Yet, it is so valued that people are willing to spend money, take risks and tolerate negatives that would never be tolerated in other situations.

    Quite a point to ponder and to marvel at.

  2. parents and any adults ought to research and acknowledge that they do NOT have to go through CI surgeries.

    I’ve always felt AB was too experimental. they say they have the most features as far as internal implant but too much of a good thing can go bad. It’s like making your computer handle all these programs and yet it doesn’t have enough ram or even coolant. You gotta make sure the implant can handle all these features and that your body can handle it too (too much of a good thing can oversimulate our ear nerves).

    I have cochlear brand. It’s pretty good, but if I don’t wear it for awhile, i get tinnitus really bad. it’s noiser than the implant itself. If you don’t have the money and need an replacement, your communication do get cut off just like that, and you end up feeling just the same as late-deafened who just lost their hearing plus a extremely bad tinnitus. yep, your social and emotional life is depended on a technology. I blame the tinnitus on my brain being wired for hearing aids and CI. anyway Parents need to know that their child will always be deaf and they need to make sure their child embrace their deafness or they will be depressed everytime they can’t hear very good to none at all.

    Someone I know personally wanted to commit sucide because she felt like a burden to the society because she is deaf. Rather it is mental illness or not, I don’t know.

  3. Dianrez,

    Excellent point. However, I’d like to stress that it is way more than the supposed “human desire to hear”– nowadays, it’s all about the CORPORATIST DESIRE to make money, never mind if the hearing devices work or not or even when these harm/kill patients.

  4. Thanks for the heads up till it’s verified about the layoffs. Believe AB has it’s lovely headquarters in Santa Clarita or Valencia not far from where I’m right now. U re right the more exposure in the media of problems like what u re doing, the more opportunities for justice and better dialogue about what it means to be Deaf and what audism is about.

    DianeRez, what you mentioned about the “human desire” is really based on ideology and not “human desire”. And the implication is that if u don’t hear, u re not fully human, which I believe u re pointing out in ur comment, should ne’er be any acceptable human desire.

    Yes I too feel for the people being hurt on all levels, especially those wearing the implants, and hope that they all will manage to be ok. Like other corporation greed, their actions mainly for the sake of making PROFITS, hurts everybody and the Earth so we need to be continually vigilant about corporations and their very powerful presence and control over all of us. We need to make sure media, goverments, etc are constantly reminded that the value of HUMANITY is more precious than PROFITS.

  5. In marketing, one capitalizes on human need to build a business. People hunger, therefore an industry shoots up providing food. People need drink, and shazam, we have the beverage, alcohol, and even bottled water industries. Where people want to be beautiful, there are fashion and makeup industries eager to make a buck.

    It is even possible to create a product, THEN create a demand for the product where none existed before, such as the demand for Post-It sticky notes. However, this is not the case with hearing.

    People cannot imagine life without hearing. They fear being deaf, so if children are born deaf, they go bonkers; the first thing they want to do is fix it. Anything to have normalcy. So it is with those who became deaf later; anything to get back what they had before.

    Thus grew a lot of industries designed to address hearing and all the perks with it, such as speech. Many were based on altruism; i.e. doing good. But soon it became all commercial, a buck for a decibel or vocalization. As the years went, that buck became handsomer and handsomer.

    Without hearing “loss” there can be no business, so here the NEED or WANT is first. If anyone is to blame, it is not the industries but the PEOPLE who demanded hearing and will spend increasing amounts of money to get it.

    That’s why I think it is useful to examine why people value hearing so much and how little they know about its actual requirement in independence, creativity and personal satisfaction, just to name three of peoples’ life goals.

    This suggestion is not to reduce the opportunities or bash industries, but to be more realistic about what one is actually getting out of hearing services.

    For example, $35,000 up front for a CI and to deal with a lifetime of MAPings, buying batteries, finangling with equipment and replacement parts, etc., for the benefit of hearing noises and occasional words or phrases. And add the cost of future surgery for repair of mistakes, replacing devices, removing for medical tests and replacement afterwards, limitations on activities such as high-impact sports or deep-sea diving and for uncertain outcomes.

    Yet it appears that most people value hearing very, very much and are cheerfully willing to support multi-billionaire industries, no matter what hassles are involved or costs are to other industries such as government, health and insurance businesses.

    We could all profit from examining this critically and asking, what are the lessons we can apply to other aspects of humanity?

    Are people getting into these with their priorities in the right places? Would the $35,000 and up be more rewarding if spent on an education or a trip abroad to study other countries? Or would it be better spent moving to a city with stellar services for deaf children? It’s a free country; we need all the choices to stay open. Just that we also be realistic about it. And by the way demand that the industries be honest and ethical in providing the best possible quality in implanted devices in the human body.

  6. deafa –

    thank u for sharing ur perspectives and experiences with CI and tinnitus. That is very tough.

    re: depression. Yes i have had some folks tell me heart breaking stories of how they felt unaccepted due to their “deafness” and how they struggled with trying to be something they are not.

    it is very serious and very little understood cuz we dont listen to the folks who experience it but rather the “experts” in which all “data” comes through a very selective lens.

    could go on at length here but it is a painful place to sit – all that we have seen and knows still goes on.

    hope folks will sing their songs. they may not be heard but it is in the signing/singing them out that one possesses the secret of joy (see Maya Angelou’s I know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy)

    finding our voice is often the very first step

    spiritual audacity that MLK jr sang about



  7. DE

    the profit margin really needs to be looked into

    CI are outrageously expensive – more than a couple of cars and much harder to drive into the shop when something goes wrong or u get a lemon

    there is definitely $ in them thar ears

    benevolence meets ca ching ca ching

    its a dangerous combo and one to be examined



  8. heye ella

    ya got me thinking

    back when our dominant society said “black is bad” and “women are weak” and “Indians are idiots” and “gays are groupers” ALL FALSEHOODS and all wrong

    lots of stuff was invested in making them those folks feel mighty badly about how they were built

    lots of that stigma got internalized and if there had been pills or surgery or what not to “correct” the problem – to make the Black person unblack, the woman unweak, etc many of these individuals probably would have opted for those “solutions”

    some did do things to “fit in” – lighten their skin, seek lighter colored mates for their children so their offsprings would be light – cuz white was right etc. Women wanting to break through the glass ceiling took on more “male” ways of doing business, some Native Americans cut their hair, abandoned their language, learned to act white, Gays tried to go straight and denounced all things gay etc etc

    but as movements around pride, acceptance, self-love, advocacy, equality of condition etc started to emerge – that internalized oppression started to fall away

    sure some still had it and have it but by and large folks shouting out:
    black is beautiful
    burning bras
    Native Americans are people not mascots
    gay pride

    etc – we see a true shift

    so this is why martin’s call – “we must have the spiritual audacity to assert our somebodyness” is so important

    Deaf folks dont even got a chance because:
    1. our numbers are so small
    2. SYSTEMS have developed ways to get at that core of self-worth and spin it might tight and twisty – via technology and education
    3. not even their parents or siblings can fully understand – this is lonely stuff. this is sink or swim unless someone wonders by and offers u a hand

    this is why the key the corner stone the turning point is gonna be via the media showing that “its ok to be Deaf”

    Deafhood basically is like the feminist concept “Feminism – the radical notion that women are people”

    all oppressed groups have spent their life time trying to prove that they are human. the smart folks have spent their time showing how inHUMANe it is to believe otherwise

    ASLella – u wrote: “We need to make sure media, goverments, etc are constantly reminded that the value of HUMANITY is more precious than PROFITS.”

    corporate deviance is a big ole monster – it has led lots of folks to depend on things that are not good for us or our mother (earth)
    – cigarettes (oh nothing bad in those things said the CEOs before congress)
    – cars (oh lets kill the electric car cuz its actually good for the environment)

    etc etc etc – dont even get me started on Silkwood, pesticides, Food Inc, gun wrongs, oy!

    “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
    ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.



  9. Dianrez –

    yes definitely have to examine this – Hearing is Happiness mindset

    just as African-Americans had to examine the notion that whitness is rightness

    most folks knew that since it was a man’s world it would be “better” (ie get u more privileges) to be male. since surgery wasnt an option many women morphed into manly wo/men to advance and “suceed”

    same is true for other oppressed groups

    but the core of why they did it is not because the truly desired to be male or white or straight but more because society told them it is better to be male white heterosexual etc

    and even after all of that morphing – even after lightening their skin etc – discrimination is never far behind and then they is boo and hiss and bubble pop

    with Deaf folks – some of the most upset are the ones who were once hearing and then became Deaf – many of them are SHOCKED to see the discrimination that Deaf folks experience and the injustice of it so they will either work to return to as near a hearing like status as possible or they will “fight the power” or try their best to “pass as what they once were”

    in a word – as u have noted – its complicated

    but we do gotta examine it

    let no rock be unturned



  10. Yeah, I read this article today concerning depression. Interesting that those who are involve deaf community do much better. I think being able to communicate outside of your family (sometimes the family are the abusers) help alot, which is why I’m for bi-bi education and don’t believe in mixed total communication where everyone don’t share the same language. : 38 PST&year=2011&public=0

  11. deafa

    thank u so much for that link – i did do a blog entry about that study and listed that link and another one so big thanks

    yep – the radical notion that the kids have a right not to have to work for their words – especially at HOME

    thanks again



  12. I have had my suspicions about this company for some time after hearing controversial stories form an employee friend of mine. Looks like the boom is off the rose. The ‘perfect world’ of AB is unravelling.

  13. Yes i have had some folks tell me heart breaking stories of how they felt unaccepted due to their “deafness” and how they struggled with trying to be something they are not. This suggestion is not to reduce the opportunities or bash industries, but to be more realistic about what one is actually getting out of hearing services.

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