CHICAGO, IL-Johnson & Johnson, GE Medical Systems, Baxter International Inc., Abbott Laboratories, and Medtronic, Inc., are creating a global healthcare exchange on the Internet. All five companies will be equal shareholders in this privately held, yet unnamed company to be based in Chicago. When launched in the third quarter of 2000, the exchange will offer on-line ordering, confirmation, order status inquiries, product catalogues, and contract terms. Later on, clinical content will be added, as will more manufacturers and suppliers. The initial focus will be on the US market with plans to expand globally in 2001. The exchange hopes to be a time and cost efficient one-stop-shopping point for every product needed by healthcare facilities. As emphasized by James T. Leneham, worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson's Medical Devices, Diagnostic and Health Systems Group, "Every healthcare system around the world is under enormous pressure to create efficiency and take out costs. This exchange is a big part of the solution-access to state-of-the-art supply chain management and clinical content without the capital expense." No transaction fees will be charged to customers since the suppliers will fund all operations.