If any one individual was to be credited with creating the modern commercial laboratory organization, it would be Paul Brown, M.D., founder and former Chairman of MetPath, Inc. (now Quest Diagnostics Incorporated). Where is he now? For ten years, he served as a Director for UroCor, Inc. of Oklahoma City. Dr. Brown recently resigned from UroCor’s Board to spend more time at HeaRX, Ltd., where he is Chairman and CEO.
Another recognized pioneer of the commercial laboratory industry has affiliated with a pathology-based company. Pathology Partners, Inc. of Dallas, Texas announced this summer that James Powell, M.D., was joining its board of directors. Dr. Powell was founder and former Chairman of Biomedical Laboratories (now Laboratory Corporation of America). Dr. Powell remains a director at LabCorp.
AETNA TO PAY FOR GENETICS TEST
Last month, Aetna U.S. Healthcare agreed to provide genetic susceptibility testing for breast and ovarian cancer to its members. Myriad Genetics, Inc. will provide the testing.
Here is an interesting aside on the topic of genetics research. Iceland, settled by 10,000 Vikings in the year 874 A.D., now has a population of 270,000. Its people are considered to have the cleanest bloodlines on the planet. DeCode Genetics, Inc. was founded two years ago to capture genetic data from this population and make it available to drug companies seeking to identify genes related to specific diseases. Apparently the effort is helped because genealogy is a passion in Iceland. As early as the year 1000, Christian priests began keeping detailed records of births and deaths. Drug giant Hoffman LaRouche signed a $200 million contract this year with DeCode to begin research into several specific disease states.
MORE ON: Genetics
Apparently there is competition even in this type of genetic research. Inbred societies in Finland, Costa Rica, and some of Utah’s Mormon communities have been the source of DNA samples for Myriad Genetics and Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Of the above, however, only the Mormons kept detailed demographic records, and these extend back only 150 years
We believe this interest in genetic data across a cross-section of any population has a parallel in laboratory testing. Laboratory test results for any cross-section of the population will have similar added value to genetics researchers, managed care companies, and clinicians. Each will use the information in different ways. The three blood brothers, LabCorp, SmithKline, and Quest, recognize this opportunity. Each is actively pursuing ways to develop salable products from their extensive access to large numbers of test results.
That’s all the insider intelligence for this report.
Look for the next briefing on Monday, September 28, 1998.