“May 21, 2001 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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As predicted in the last issue of THE DARK REPORT, Quest Diagnostics Incorporated did acquire all the remaining shares of MedPlus, Inc. which it didn’t already own. MedPlus offers a variety of clinical information products, including one to create and manage electronic patient records.

KEN FREEMAN JOINS BOARD AT TRW

Kenneth W. Freeman, Chairman and CEO of Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, was recently elected to TRW, Inc.’s board of directors. Most people know that TRW was once one of the three major consumer credit repositories. It is now developing information products for healthcare. Adding Freeman to its board may indicate that TRW would like to develop services involving the electronic medical record (EMR), which would include clinical lab data. This would dovetail with Quest’s recent acquisition of MedPlus and its products for managing clinical data, including patient EMRs.

NEW CHOLESTEROL GUIDELINES COULD PUT 36 MILLION ON DRUG THERAPY

Publication of the first new cholesterol standards in eight years last week garnered national headlines and may substantially boost the volume of diagnostic tests involved in cholesterol monitoring. The National Cholesterol Education Program’s expert committee, under the aegis of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published guidelines that call for “anyone who already has coronary artery disease and whose LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, is above 130 generally should be on drug therapy.” Experts predict this would triple, to 36 million people (18% of the American population), the number of individuals on cholesterol-lowering drugs.

MORE ON: CHOLESTEROl

Most press headlines emphasized how the new guidelines would triple the number of people on cholesterol drug therapy and increase the prescription costs associated with this therapy to as much as $30 billion per year. However, less attention was paid to the fact that all these “new” patients would require diagnostic and monitoring tests. These new guidelines also demonstrate another dimension to the changing healthcare marketplace. As new disease management guidelines are developed, diagnostic, prognostic, and monitoring tests will play an increasingly important role.

STRATEGIC CHANGES AT USLABS IN IRVINE

Originally organized to serve pathologists during the hey-day of the PPM (physician practice management) company, USLabs, Inc. in Irvine, California has quietly been transforming itself. During the past 18 months, USLabs CEO Michael Danzi has shifted the company’s strategic pathology services to compete in the same cancer diagnostics market as IMPATH, Inc. Instrumental in this process has been a team of marketing and sales executives formerly with Ventana Systems. Inc.

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