“August 1, 2005 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

Redwood City, California-based Genomic Health, Inc. is considering an initial public offering (IPO) to raise as much as $75 million. The company filed preliminary documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on July 15, 2005. In January 2004, Genomic Health launched OncoType D™ for early-stage breast cancer patients. The company is assembling clinical data to provide evidence that its test has the “ability to predict the likelihood of cancer recurrence, the likelihood of patient survival within 10 years of diagnosis, and the likelihood of chemotherapy benefit.”


On July 25, 2005, Specialty Laboratories Inc. stated that David C. Weavil had joined the company as Chief Executive Officer. Weavil was CEO of Unilab Corporation from 1997-99 and had previously been the Executive VP and COO of Laboratory Corporation of America.


Patient safety advocates are opening a new front in the battle to develop transparency in the performance of physicians. Now coming under scrutiny is under-reporting of hospital-based disciplinary actions against physicians. The National Practitioner Databank was created in 1990 to collect this data. In 15 years of operation, the databank has collected an average of 720 reports per year from among the nation’s 4,900 acute-care hospitals. Experts originally predicted that as many as 10,000 reports per year would be submitted.

ADD TO: Disciplinary Action

In a report on this situation released in 1995, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) criticized the hospital industry for under-reporting and noted that its investigators had determined that 76% of the nation’s hospitals had never reported a single disciplinary action in the first three years of the program’s operation. Heightened scrutiny of the National Practioner Data-bank at this time is another step to peel away the veil of secrecy that keeps the public from learning about the poor clinical performance of some physicians. Advocates of reforming the American healthcare system want the names and details about physician disciplinary actions and license suspensions to be readily available, to both healthcare policymakers and consumers.


At this stage in the health insurance financial cycle, major health insurers continue to report strong earnings. Aetna, Inc. reported that second-quarter net income was $1.35 per share, a 50% percent increase over the prior-year quarter. At PacifiCare Health Systems, Inc., soon to be acquired by UnitedHealth Group, second quarter earnings per share was $0.96, a 20% increase from same quarter 2004. WellPoint, Inc., (formerly Anthem, Inc.) the nation’s largest health insurer, saw its net income jump 135%, from $237.9 million to $559.4 million


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