Digital Pathology Update

GE, UPMC Ending Omnyx, Their Digital Pathology Joint Venture

Decision by the partners to dissolve the joint venture catches new pathology lab customers by surprise

IN RECENT WEEKS, pathology laboratory clients of the Omnyx digital pathology system learned that the joint venture is ending. Company officials tell these customers that their digital pathology systems will continue to receive service.

Omnyx was formed in 2008 as a joint venture between GE Healthcare and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Its goal was to develop a digital pathology system and the two partners contributed $20 million each to launch the new business. (See TDR, June 16, 2008.)

The action to end the joint venture was confirmed by a posting on TissuePathology.com. According to pathologist Keith Kaplan, MD, who manages the website, after contacting GE Healthcare Digital Global Communications, the company issued the following statement:

“UPMC and GE Healthcare can confirm plans to exit their joint Omnyx venture, primarily driven by variable global demand. GE will focus its investment strategy in other areas of its digital portfolio, for example the GE Health Cloud. GE Healthcare will support existing customers through this transition and honor contractual commitments. GE Healthcare and UPMC will continue their partnership in other areas of health innovation.”

Kaplan continued, writing, “As I understand it to date, GE Healthcare will support current Omnyx customers. Many of the senior executives within Omnyx have moved on and GE Healthcare will provide resources for necessary support of day-to-day operations.”

Uncertainty About Future

THE DARK REPORT has heard from several pathology labs that recently entered into agreements to purchase and install Omnyx digital pathology systems. It’s unclear to pathologists at these labs how Omnyx will keep its contractual commitments.

One pathology lab shared a letter it sent to GE. It said, in part, “We are told that GE will honor existing commitments in terms of product service and support but there is no surety around future product develop- ment and availability. Potentially, therefore, we may be entering into a long term commitment that effectively ‘has no future’.”

The dissolution of the Omnyx joint venture is a surprise for two reasons. First, in February, following a change in how the FDA said it would review applications for digital pathology devices, Omnyx officials had stated publicly that they were optimistic that their digital pathology application, submitted in 2014, would benefit from the FDA’s decision.

Second, the decision to end the JV involving GE Healthcare and UPMC is unexpected and might be an inauspicious development for the field of digital pathology.

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