April 27, 2009 “Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

As unemployment rates climb in the United States, employers are ordering fewer pre-employment drugs of abuse (DOA) screening panels. This is expected. It is why investors know that drugs-of-abuse volumes are closely linked to the economic boom/bust cycle. During first quarter earning calls, public lab companies revealed the bad news in this sector of lab testing. Quest Diagnostics Incorporated reported that its DOA volume had declined about 25% from Q1-08. It was a similar story at Laboratory Corporation of America, where DOA volume declined 20.1% from the last year’s first quarter.

MORE ON: Drug Tests

It was a mixed bag at Medtox Scientific, Inc. , o f S t . Paul, Minnesota. MedTox announced that drugs of abuse test volume had declined 1 4 % compared to Q1-08. However, it also noted that “the decrease in [DOA] revenue was mitigated by very strong new business from laboratory drugs-of- abuse clients of $1.4 million, or a 14% increase from the prior-year period for a total of $8.4 million.”

BEA ARTHUR AS MED LAB TECHNICIAN

Put this item in the category of “lab industry things you never knew.” In covering the death of actress Bea Arthur on Saturday at age 86, an Associated Press reporter wrote, “After two years at a junior college in Virginia, she earned a degree as a medical lab technician [MLT], but she ‘loathed’ doing lab work at a hospital.”

OBITUARIES

  • Died on April 5, 2009, of cancer, Daniel M. Baer, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Pathology, Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. Baer was widely-known for his monthly column in MLO Magazine, titled “Tips from Clinical Experts,” which he wrote for almost 20 years.
  • Died on March 29, 2009, Ronald H. Laessig, Ph.D., Emeritus Director of the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and Emeritus Professor of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, Wisconsin. Laessig was widely-known for his contributions on national issues in laboratory medicine over four decades. With Sharon S. Ehrmeyer, Ph.D., Laessig co-authored The New Poor Man’s (Person’s) Guide to the Regulations (CLIA ’88, JCAHO, CAP & COLA).

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