GE Grabs the Spotlight in IVD
The entry by GE into the core lab business via its acquisition of Abbott's clinical diagnostics businesses follows a similar move by Siemens last year, and suggests IVD may be best suited for generalist industrial giants. While the pricing pressures that have dogged this segment of diagnostics are not likely to abate, existing players--including Abbott--are continuing to develop high-margin molecular diagnostic tests that they expect the new players will want to incorporate into their platforms.
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Among diagnostic specialties, anatomic pathology is the last holdout against the digital revolution. Pathologists still detect disease by looking at tissue samples on a glass slide through a microscope, just as they have done for a hundred years. But in the last couple of years, start-up companies have begun to break the bondage of pathologists to slides. Their solution: platforms for digitizing slides so they can be accessed through computer networks by clinicians anywhere in the world. Two start-ups, Aperio and BioImagene, have led the way and now all the big imaging manufacturers, the microscope companies and biomarker developers want in.
The adoption of new in vivo molecular imaging agents may eventually follow the current path of in vitro diagnostics, which for some products is shifting from a cost-effectiveness standard for reimbursement toward an evidence-based. But the companies most likely to support the clinical trials that would establish such benefits are only slowly integrating the development of molecular agents into their core businesses. IVD - an area of acquisition interest for these companies -may be the force that transforms them into more biologically minded and innovation-driven entities, and in so doing it may bolster the development of molecular imaging agents.