“September 20, 1999 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

Here’s an interesting company to keep an eye on. Abaton.com, based in Minneapolis, is one of the early entrants in the race to offer web-based clinical network solutions at the point of care. Centrex Clinical Laboratories, Inc. of Utica, New York is purchasing Abaton.com’s product for lab test ordering and reporting. Called ClinLabs.com, the product uses the Internet to connect the doctor’s office with the laboratory. Centrex’s President, Jack Finn, expects a rapid implementation and enhanced informatics services to his laboratory’s customers.

MDS-Hudson Valley Laboratories of Poughkeepsie, New York will raid Health Network Laboratories, Inc. (HNL) in Allentown, Pennsylvania for its new CEO. Reports are that Charles Fenstermaker will leave HNL to become the CEO of MDS-Hudson Valley. Fenstermaker was responsible for HNL’s sales and marketing program. He replaces Glen Fine, who was recently promoted to the Nashville office of MDS Laboratory Services. (See
TDR, April 26, 1999
.)

15-MINUTE URINE TEST FOR PNEUMONIA HITS THE MARKET

New assays continue to change diagnostic procedures. The FDA recently approved Binax, Inc.’s urine-based test for Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacteria responsible for pneumonia. A swab is dipped in the urine, then placed on the test device, where results become available within 15 minutes. This allows doctors to make a faster diagnosis and start treatment more quickly. Current assays, based on blood or sputum, take at least two days to yield results.

ADD TO…NEW ASSAYS
Aetna/U.S. Healthcare’s decision to reimburse for new Pap smear tests (see pages 5-6)may generate a pull- through benefit for Digene Corporation. Digene makes a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test which can use a liquid prep Pap smear as the specimen. It will be interesting to see if physicians ordering liquid prep Pap smears also begin requesting the HPV test for that segment of their patient population where such tests are indicated. This is another example of how changing diagnostics technology creates new clinical opportunities.

Many laboratories know that the number of laws and regulations to improve safety conditions in the healthcare industry are increasing. As more states enact laws to protect health care workers, at least one diagnostics company stands to benefit. The latest example is the enactment, last July 1, of a law in California which requires hospitals to use appropriate safety products in all cases where a healthcare worker uses a device that comes in contact with a bodily fluid, such as blood. For Becton Dickinson & Co. (BD), this includes a wide range of the company’s products. BD executives believe that currently only about 20% of the nation’s market has converted to health safety products. It predicts that, within three years, it will be 85% converted. For laboratories, this trend will generate increased costs. Such products, like needles and syringes with safety features, cost more than those without.

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