"Lab Industry Briefs"

IMPATH, AmeriPath, LabOne, MedTox, Genomics Collaborative, PharmChem, CARESIDE, Luminex, Fisher Scientific

EMERGING BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY IN TISSUE BANKS & CANCER DATA

EVEN AS THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM squeezes pathologist incomes in a variety of specific professional services, it opens up business opportunities in other segments of the pathology field.

Researchers and pharmaceutical companies want clinical data on cancer cases. They also have a need to evaluate a wide range of tissue specimens as part of their research studies. Combined, the demand for these products is fueling a growing market in anatomic pathology information and tissue banking.

The most aggressive pathology companies, those which are publicly-traded, recognize this developing business opportunity. They are moving swiftly to sign contracts and generate revenues from selling such services.

In the case of IMPATH, Inc., it announced an agreement with Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in July to cooperate with Millennium’s product development activities. The agreement calls for IMPATH to utilize its cancerous tissue samples and clinical data information products to assist Millennium’s research into oncology therapeutics and predictive medicine products.

IMPATH currently has 585,000 analyzed cancer cases in its clinical repository. It is adding about 150,000 new cases per year to its database.

AmeriPath, Inc. is also moving to capitalize on the demand for cancer data and tissue specimens. It formed an alliance with Genomics Collaborative, Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts. AmeriPath will provide “samples from normal, diseased, and cancerous tissue to researchers in industry and academic laboratories.”

Genomics Collaborative is a company specifically formed to develop tissue banks. It wants to create working relationships with pathology group practices around the country to help them develop tissue banking capability.

According to Ken Bottles, M.D., President at Genomics Collaborative, his company predicts that increasing demand for tissue specimens by researchers will create an opportunity for even small pathology groups to generate revenue from tissue banking activities.

THE DARK REPORT observes that pathologists seeking diversified income and revenue growth opportunities should evaluate the potential of pathology information products and tissue banking. These are the types of complementary services that can supplement revenue from professional pathology services.

DRUGS OF ABUSETESTING LABS DEVELOPING NEW PROFIT CENTERS

SUSTAINED COMPETITION for drugs of abuse (DOA) testing clients has driven prices down and made many high volume accounts unprofitable to lab providers.

In reaction to that development, a number of specialty DOA lab companies are looking for ways to leverage their primary relationship with commercial accounts into new profit streams. The Internet figures prominently in this effort.

At PharmChem Laboratories, Inc., the company has developed an ASP-based (application service provider) information service for its drugs of abuse testing clients. Using thin client technology, PharmChem has created a seamless information link between it, client companies, and independent medical review officers.

PharmChem President Joseph Halligen told THE DARK REPORT on a recent site visit that its ASP-based information management strategy has the potential to generate more profit per transaction than doing the actual laboratory tests.

At MedTox Scientific, Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota, the business strategy is to expand into logistics management. Earlier this month, MedTox purchased a client list for collection services in the Bloomington area. This purchase is expected to double its collection volume at that site.

LabOne, Inc., based in Lenexa, Kansas, signed an agreement with an e-commerce start-up, eScreen, Inc. to provide testing services. eScreen, a division of National Medical Review Offices, Inc., manages the drug testing programs for business clients and is one of the nation’s largest medical officer review service firms.

CARESIDE GOES NAVY IN DEMONSTRATION OF ROUTINE POC TESTING

HERE’S AN INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT. The United States Navy will place CARESIDE, Inc.’s chemistry and hematology point-of-care instruments on a Navy support ship.

The objective is to evaluate the performance of the CARESIDE Analyzer® and H-2000 Hematology units aboard ship, in a dynamic environment. The study is tied to a fixed number of patients.

The ship is part of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command’s Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force (NFAF). This is the group which is responsible for providing logistical support to naval operations. It maintains ocean tugs, oilers, ammunition ships, combat ships, and two hospital ships.

The United States military has a keen interest in various forms of emerging point-of-care diagnostic testing technology. THE DARK REPORT is aware that one branch of the military is also evaluating Luminex Corporation’s LabMap® testing system for point-of-care and battlefield applications.

Military evaluations involving products from CARESIDE and Luminex are evidence that the armed forces believe these technology platforms may, with reasonable investments, enable diagnostic testing to occur outside a core laboratory. Having point-of-care diagnostic capability is a major goal of the medical services for the armed forces.

LAB PRODUCTS INVOLVED IN INTERNET E-COMMERCE VENTURE

WATCH FOR THE EARLIEST BUSINESS activities of the new electronic health exchange soon to be formed by Fisher Scientific, Inc., McKesson HBOC, Inc., Cardinal Health, Inc., and AmeriSource Health Corporation.

The companies signed a definitive agreement to create the joint venture. It has not yet been named, but will be an independent company located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It will be an Internet-based, business-to-business electronic health exchange, offering products to hospitals, physicians, laboratories and other healthcare firms.

Fisher Scientific’s participation is notable. Fisher’s Web site has earned praise as one of the best-organized healthcare distributor sites now operating. A steadily increasing number of Fisher’s customers, including clinical laboratories, are using its Web site to order products.

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