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Ventana Medical Systems (VMSI), in the midst of a hostile takeover bid by Roche, finally has something to smile about: The firm is the highest-ranking med tech firm, at number 17, on Forbes’ 200 Best Small Companies in America list, released last week.

The Tuscon, AZ-based company markets automated diagnostic systems to the anatomical pathology market. In early 2007, Ventana received FDA approval for the use of its PATHWAY HER-2/neu (4B5) Rabbit Monoclonal Antibody as an aid in the assessment of breast cancer patients for whom Herceptin treatment is an option. According to Forbes, Ventana had sales of $261 million for the latest 12 months. The firm made a significant jump from last year, when it was ranked number 115.

At number 25 is a company called Psychmedics (NASDAQ:PMD), from Acton, MA, whose technology analyzes hair for drug abuse. The company says its patented platform can reveal a personal drug history over a period of several months. Sales, according to Forbes, were $24 million for the latest 12 months.

Coming in at number 31 is Cutera (NASDAQ:CUTR), a Brisbane, CA, company that makes laser and light-based treatments for aesthetic treatments. Forbes reports sales of $103 million for Cutera.

Further down the list is Melville, NY-based Bovie Medical (NYSEMKT:BVX), a manufacturer of electrosurgical products, including generators, electrodes, electrosurgical pencils and various ancillary disposables used in surgery for cutting and coagulating tissue. Bovie sales for the last 12 months were $28 million.

Forbes’ list looked at companies with revenue of $5 million to $750 million and share prices above $5 as of October 1. They were ranked according to return on equity, as well as sustained sales and net profit growth over 12-month and five-year periods. View the complete list here.

Last June, Fortune Small Business came out with its annual FSB 100, a similar list of hotshot small companies in the U.S. Almost a quarter of that list (21 companies) was made up of healthcare-related companies.

VMSI / PMD / CUTR / BVX 1-year chart

Source: Ventana, Psychemedics, Cutera & Bovie Medical Make Forbes’ 200 Best Small Co List