March 9, 2020 Intelligence: Late-Breaking Lab News

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Coronavirus, more specifically, the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, currently dominates global news. This is the third novel strain of coronavirus to emerge as a threat to human health in the past two decades. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was identified in November 2002 and played out by July 2003. China was first to see SARS and, as of this date, a total of 8,098 SARS cases— resulting in 774 deaths—were reported in 17 countries, for a 9.6% fatality rate. Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS, also known as camel flu) was another novel coronavirus that triggered concern. It was identified in Saudi Arabia 2012 and most cases have been in the Arabian peninsula. According to World Health Organization data, from 2012 through Jan. 2020, a total of 2,506 MERS-CoV cases have been diagnosed. Deaths totaled 862, for a fatality rate of 34%.


BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) of Franklin Lakes, N.J., and Babson Diagnostics of Austin, Texas, announced a strategic partnership on Feb. 12. The two companies plan “to bring laboratory-quality, small-volume blood collection to retail pharmacies.” In a joint press release, officials from the two companies said that one goal is to support “laboratory-quality tests that do not require venipuncture,” but would use capillary blood.


On Jan. 26, former California Representative Fortney “Pete” Stark, Jr. died at the age of 88. In 1988, he was the first sponsor of legislation to address physician self-referrals. Elements of this physician self-referral law were included in the 1990 budget act and was called the “Stark Law.” This legislation specifically prohibited physicians from referring their Medicare patients to a clinical laboratory if the physician and/or his/her family members had a financial interest in that lab. This law became known as Stark I. In 1993, another law was passed that extended Stark I and added other services to the physician self-referral prohibition. This second law is called Stark II.

• Laboratory for Advanced Medicine of Irvine, Calif., announced that its new Chief Operating Officer is Benjamin Oyler. Oyler previously held executive positions at, Design Ink Corporation, and Del Sol.

• Prelude Corporation, of Laguna Hills, Calif., appointed Edwin C. Hendrick as Chief Commercial Officer. He earlier served at GenomeDX Biosciences, US Labs, Ventana Medical Systems, and Abbott Laboratories.


Have you caught the latest e-briefings from DARK Daily? If so, then you’d know about…a survey by the American Hospital Association which discovered that, from 2017 to 2018, outpatient visits to hospitals declined for the first time in 35 years! This has implications for hospital labs, particularly those doing outreach testing. You can get the free DARK Daily e-briefings by signing up at

That’s all the insider intelligence for this report. Look for the next briefing on Monday, March 30, 2020.




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