American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
August 2007 Clinical Laboratory News: Industry Profiles

August 2007: Volume 33, Number 8

 Perlegen Hits Milepost for Diabetes Drug-Response Test

Now that it has finished collecting DNA from more than 3,000 individuals who take one of the Actos (Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd., Osaka, Japan) or Avandia (GSK, Philadelphia, Pa.) diabetes drugs, Perlegen (Mountain View, Calif.) announced it will begin analyzing these samples to find genetic variations responsible for serious side effects. In June, the FDA requested black box labels on Actos and Avandia, both insulin-sensitizing thiazolidinediones (TDZs) approved for treatment of type 2 diabetes, due to the risk of cardiovascular events. “Our early results have demonstrated a significant genetic component to the adverse effect profile of these TDSs,” said Perlegen Chief Scientific Officer David Cox, MD, PhD. “Through our analysis of this valuable sample set, using both genotyping and sequencing technologies, we hope to provide patients and physicians with critical decision making information.”

LabCorp Snaps Up DSI Laboratories

LabCorp (Burlington, N.C.) announced its acquisition of Fort Myers, Fla.-based reference lab DSI Laboratories, a for-profit subsidiary of the NCH Healthcare System (Naples) in South Florida. Although LabCorp has had a presence in Florida for over 20 years, the company said that the DSI Laboratories acquisition would strengthen its ability to serve local managed care, physician, and patient customers. Allen Weiss, MD, CEO of NCH Healthcare System, said that selling the laboratory was part of focusing on inpatient care and would also help the system offer competitive wages to retain and attract employees. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Roche Pushes $3 Billion Offer for Ventana, Completes BioVeris Deal

Touting the deal as a chance to promote personalized healthcare, especially in oncology, Roche (Basel, Switzerland) said it would continue to pursue Tucson, Arizona-based Ventana Medical Systems in the absence of a deal negotiated with Ventana’s board, offering $75 per share in cash to the company’s shareholders. Ventana specializes in histopathology and oncology, as well as companion tests for pharmaceuticals. “Our combined company will be uniquely positioned to develop companion diagnostics which enable the identification of patient responses to treatments, thereby offering more cost-effective, differentiated, and targeted medicines to patients,” said Roche Diagnostics Division CEO Severin Schwan. “Roche’s leadership in oncology and molecular biology, our strong global market position and broad sales and marketing reach, and our distinctive diagnostics capabilities in IT, workflow automation, and test standardization make us the ideal partner for Ventata.”

Ventana’s board of directors issued a caustic response to Roche’s announcement that it would push for a hostile takeover of the company, advising Ventana investors not to sell their shares to Roche because, among other reasons, the price was “inadequate in multiple respects.” Rebuking Roche for the version of events it publicized about Roche’s original overtures to Ventana’s board, Ventana CEO Christopher Gleeson portrayed Roche as too impatient to wait for Ventana to fully consider the original offer before going ahead with a hostile bid. “We intend to vigorously resist Roche’s attempt to acquire Ventana at this inadequate price,” said Gleeson. Roche responsed that it still believed $75 per share was a full and fair price.

Roche also announced that it has completed its acquisition of BioVeris (Gaithersburg, Md.). The companies signed the $600 million merger agreement back in April. Afterbuying BioVeris, Roche now owns its patents for electrochemiluminescence technology, which Roche said it could use to expand its immunochemistry business.

Dade Behring Licenses Cardiac Markers to Beckman Coulter

Dade Behring (Deerfield, Ill.) announced an agreement to grant Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, Calif.) licenses for the use of several cardiac markers, including placental growth factor, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase, soluble CD40 ligand, pregnancy associated plasma protein-A, and PAPP-A. Dade Behring CEO Jim Reid-Anderson said that sharing the rights to the emerging markers would allow new tests to become more widely available. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.