Do Dx-Life Science Synergies Exist? Beckman Says 'You Bet They Do'
Life sciences and clinical diagnostics seem to have a lot in common, but their customer needs, margins and product life cycles differ significantly. Beckman Coulter, one of the few large diagnostics companies with significant life science commitments, argues vociferously in favor of the strategic value of leveraging both businesses, despite many difficulties. Its MHC tetramer program is a prime example of its strategy.
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Bio-Rad's having a great year, thanks to its presence in the fast-growing life sciences business of protein analysis, and its surprise success with a test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Founder and CEO David Schwartz built the business based on a mix of eclectic product lines into an $800 million force in life sciences and clinical diagnostics. But as he nears 80, the company is grappling with succession issues, as well as a sense that it needs to better integrate its disparate businesses.
Beckman Coulter's Play for High Growth
With the Coulter integration successful, Beckman Coulter looks for high-growth opportunities outside of its traditional businesses. Beckman, through internal efforts in its life sciences business and a series of small alliances, is making a play in genomics and proteomics. In addition to building up near-term revenues, the aim is to find new "content" in the form of assays for its clinical business.
BioRx and BioDx: Can the Two Businesses Mix?
Few biotech companies venture into diagnostics, largely because they believe that therapeutics and diagnostics don’t mix. However, a handful of biotech/ small pharmaceutical companies are active in diagnostics and therapeutics, taking largely one of two approaches: using diagnostics to obtain near-term cash flow or as an integral part of a broader strategy in disease management.