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Worst of Hospital Supplies Downturn Over: BDX CEO

A bottom of sorts has been reached in the hospital supplies industry and demand will improve over the next 12-18 months, Edward Ludwig, chairman & CEO of medical technology company Becton Dickinson, told CNBC on Thursday.

"We might have lost 100-200 basis points this year," he said. "But we can get through that. The worst of the downturn, at least in terms of hospital supplies is over. It's not going to get better rapidly. We're not going to see a big V, but over the next 12-18 months we're going to see steady demand."

People out of work for extended periods of time were no longer getting their medical services, Ludwig said, which weighed on Becton Dickinson's sales.

"First time in my 30 years with this industry [we were facing] a decline for primary medical services," Ludwig went on to say. "Doctor offices went down; hospital visits went down; lab tests went down. That puts a damper on things."

Becton Dickinson's fourth-quarter earnings met analysts' expectations with revenues of $1.873 billion, representing an increase of 1.0 percent year-over-year. Earnings per share came in at $1.24, compared with $1.20 in the prior-year, representing a 3.3 percent increase.

Despite softness in the sector, health care overhaul is largely a plus for the industry, said Ludwig. The most beneficial provision being "power-based purchasing."

"It will set a benchmark of standards for hospitals, and if the hospitals do better against those quality benchmarks- one of which is health care associated infections, error rates- then the hospitals will get more money from CMS, Medicare, Medicaid," he said. "That's good for us because the things we sell make hospitals better, labs more efficient. Basically we help the health care industry work more efficiently."

As for the biggest negative of health care reform, Ludwig pointed to the tax being imposed on the industry to pay for it.