“July 23, 2001 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Chairman and CEO Mark Chandler recently disclosed that researchers within Luminex Corporation are developing new detection capabilities that would permit its LabMap system to “simultaneously perform a broad range of cellular, microbial, and related tests, such as complete blood counts (CBC) and bacterial analysis. The company recently filed an initial patent application covering aspects of this new technology.


LabMAP is a multiplex bioassay testing system currently capable of doing 100 analytes on one specimen. (See TDR, December 21, 1998.) Chandler is apparently eying applications of Luminex technology for routine diagnostic testing, stating that “by performing some of the most common medical tests together in a single sample…these new detection capabilities would open up an additional $8 billion of the current life science market for Luminex’s MAPing technology.”


Tenet Healthcare Corporation may be first to publicly declare that aging baby boomers are finally pushing up demand for healthcare services. The company reported a 33% jump in earnings per share for fiscal fourth quarter ending May 31, 2001. It attributes this strong performance to increased hospital admissions by baby boomers. During the quarter, admissions among patients in the 41-50 year-old cohort increased 8% and 10% among patients aged 51-60 years old.


Tenet’s recognition that aging baby boomers are beginning to drive up admissions rates is a good sign for the clinical laboratory industry. It means that, even as efforts to control test utilization become more wide- spread, population demographics may now be about to fuel a legitimate increase in the demand for lab testing. This bodes well for all classes of laboratory testing providers. Further, Analyst Jeffrey Hoffman at Buckingham Research Group predicts the supply of hospital beds will shrink relative to demand. “…in many markets you no longer have this glut of beds, and in some markets capacity is actually expanding,” he said. It’s expected that stronger demand will allow hospitals to successfully negotiate higher prices from private payers and Medicare. This also would benefit the hospital-based labs.


A respected name in the independent commercial laboratory industry is disappearing. Associated Pathologists Laboratories (APL) of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop its current name and begin operating as American Medical Laboratories, Inc. (AML) this month. AML acquired APL in 2000. Since the early 1970s, APL has been the dominant laboratory in both Las Vegas and Nevada and is generally recognized as having been one of the better-managed independent commercial labs in the country.


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