PerkinElmer Launches Lab Venture in China

New lab to provide prenatal and newborn screening and also infectious disease testing

CEO SUMMARY: PerkinElmer is the latest U.S. organization to open a clinical laboratory business in China. Last December, it formally opened its new Suzhou PerkinElmer Medical Laboratory. The new lab is located about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Shanghai. It will provide neonatal and prenatal screening along with infectious disease testing. PE’s new venture hopes to leverage relationships developed from providing newborn and prenatal screening in China throughout for the past 20 years.

DRAWING UPON RELATIONSHIPS developed over two decades, PerkinElmer Inc. of Waltham, Massachusetts, formally opened a new medical laboratory in Suzhou, China. With this step, PerkinElmer becomes the latest U.S. organization to launch a clinical laboratory in the world’s most populous nation. Suzhou is located about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Shanghai in the southeastern section of Jiangsu Province.

“The Suzhou PerkinElmer Medical Laboratory will provide patients with neonatal and prenatal screening as well as infectious disease testing,” stated Johnson Zhang, PerkinElmer’s Vice President and General Manager for Diagnostics in the Asia-Pacific region. “This includes molecular cytogenetics testing, screening for inherited metabolic diseases, and viral load testing.”

PerkinElmer already offers these types of clinical laboratory testing services in the United States. For example, PerkinElmer Genetics operates a CLIA laboratory in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, that provides state-mandated testing for newborns as well as services in prenatal risk assessment and neonatal screening. “It was almost 20 years ago when PerkinElmer started a newborn screening project with China’s Ministry of Health,” explained Zhang. “About 15 years ago, again working with the Ministry of Health, PerkinElmer started a prenatal screening project.

Newborn Screening Rate

“Today, newborn screening coverage has reached more than 80% of the population,” he said.“This means that most newborns in China are now given two basic assays.”

“Each year in China, about 16 million babies are born and between 12 million to 13 million of those babies are screened,” noted Zhang. “About 70% of this screening is currently done by PerkinElmer.” Because of this ongoing program, “PerkinElmer has strong business relationships with more than 400 prenatal and neonatal screening centers,” commented Zhang. “In addition, PerkinElmer has existing relationships with more than 2,000 infectious disease screening laboratories across China.”

SYMBIo acquisition In 2009

Along with its ongoing newborn and prenatal screening programs performed in China, PerkinElmer has a significant diagnostics business. “In 2009, PerkinElmer paid $6.7 million to acquire SYMBIO Lifescience Co., Ltd., of Shanghai,” said Zhang. “This company provides diagnostics instruments and reagents to hospitals in China.”

At the time, PerkinElmer said the acquisition doubled the number of hospitals it could reach in China. It thus offered an opportunity for PerkinElmer to expand its prenatal and newborn screening business in China.

“The business model now is to increase our investment so that we can provide the infrastructure, the instruments, and the software for these hospitals to do newborn and prenatal screening,” explained Zhang. “Along with PerkinElmer’s established presence in thislab testing market for more than 20 years, we have very strong sales teamsto cover all provinces here in China.” As the first multinational laboratory company to focus on newborn screening in China, PerkinElmer is well positioned, Zhang continued. “Since those two basic tests were introduced, PerkinElmer has added more advanced assays. Combine that with our strong presence in diagnostics and we are in a good position to guide doctors in how they treat patients.”

Will past Serve as prologue?

“Having such a long history here in China, means that we have a good infrastructure in place. We also have all the logistics worked out and a good location that is not far from Shanghai,” he concluded. “Throughout China, PerkinElmer has over 1,000 employees. For all of these reasons, we are well positioned for now and in the future in China.”

China’s Ministry of Health Supports Newborn Screens

BECAUSE NEWBORN AND PRENATAL SCREENING IS A PRIORITY for the Chinese government, there is plenty of opportunity for the new clinical laboratory PerkinElmer opened in Suzhou last December.

“With China’s newborn population exceeding 16 million per year and prenatal screening at 40%, the Chinese government is increasingly focused on investing in maternity and child care institutions for birth defects prevention,” observed Xuming Bian, M.D., Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Peking Union Medical College Hospital.

“Chinese regulations on maternal and child health administration are improving, the national birth defects prevention network is evolving, and prenatal screening and diagnosis systems have been established,” Bian explained. “To respond to the needs of its residents, the Chinese government continues to support thirdparty labs such as PerkinElmer’s Suzhou facility.”

China is one of the fastest-growing lab testing markets in the world. IVD manufacturers are experiencing double-digit growth in their sales to Chinese labs. Several clinical laboratory and anatomic pathology businesses have been launched in China that involve labs in the United States. The pathology departments at UCLA and UPMC have joint venture agreements with lab organizations in China, for example. Also, UCLA is opening a clinical laboratory company in Shanghai with China-based Centre Testing International Corp. (See TDR, April 28, 2014.)

Contact Nicky Xu at +86-13910295554 or nicky.xu@perkinelmer.com.

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