Lab Briefs: Roche, GenMark Diagnostics, Thermo Fisher, Mesa Biotech, ProPath

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Roche to Acquire GenMark Diagnostics

LAST MONTH, Roche and GenMark Diagnostics announced a definitive merger agreement for Roche to acquire GenMark in a transaction valued at $1.8 billion. 

Roche called attention to GenMark’s syndromic panel testing portfolio and said this line of molecular tests would strengthen its products for infectious disease testing in hospitals, particularly for identifying antibiotic resistance. 

GenMark’s proprietary eSensor detection technology is used in its molecular diagnostic tests to detect multiple pathogens from a single patient sample. Roche wants to use GenMark’s ePlex system to increase lab efficiency through streamlined order-to-reporting workflow, while also contributing to better patient outcomes because of a faster time-to-answer, particularly for infectious diseases. 

Pathology Group Hacked, Protected Health Information Was Accessed

ONCE AGAIN, HACKERS HAVE TARGETED the protected health information (PHI) of a medical laboratory. This time, the target was ProPath, the large regional pathology group in Dallas. 

As required by federal law, once ProPath discovered the breach of its data systems, it reported the event to the federal government. It then reported the event to news outlets and began notifying patients whose confidential data was exposed during the breach. ProPath said it alerted 39,213 patients that an unauthorized party had accessed email accounts within the ProPath system. 

ProPath disclosed that it discovered the breach on Jan. 28 and determined that the unauthorized access of either or both email accounts occurred between May 4 and Sept. 14, 2020. In its press release, the company said:

  • accessed emails contained patients’ social security numbers, birthdate, financial account information, and more.
  • patients affected by the breach were offered free access to a credit monitoring system. 

This latest hack involving a medical laboratory and the breach of protected health information is a reminder that all clinical laboratories and pathology groups are vulnerable to this type of cybercrime. 

Thus, regular reviews of the security of practice computers and digital systems are recommended. 

Thermo Fisher Buys Mesa Biotech

AT THE END OF FEBRUARY, Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham, Mass., announced that it finalized its purchase of Mesa Biotech of San Diego. Thermo Fisher paid $550 million for the healthcare test and data company. Mesa has about 500 employees and in 2020 reported revenue of about $45 million.

Mesa’s diagnostic products include nucleic acid PCR amplification assays designed for use in non-core medical lab settings, such as ERs, rural hospitals, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies. 

Last March, Mesa obtained an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Accula molecular COVID-19 test system. The desktop PCR instrument works with a single-use cartridge to produce a SARS-CoV-2 result in 30 minutes. 

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