Volume 90 Issue 30 | p. 6 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 23, 2012

Instrumentation Companies Continue Push Into Clinical Diagnostics

Instrumentation: Thermo Fisher, Life Technologies acquire clinical diagnostics firms
By Michael McCoy
Department: Business
Keywords: instrumentation, clinical diagnostics, acquisition
One Lambda technicians work with the firm’s organ transplant diagnostics.
Credit: One Lambda

With new acquisitions, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Life Technologies are continuing the push by scientific instrumentation companies into the clinical diagnostics field.

Thermo has agreed to buy the transplant diagnostics firm One Lambda for $925 million in cash. Based in Canoga Park, Calif., One Lambda was founded in 1984 by transplantation researcher Paul I. Terasaki. It had sales last year of $182 million, split about evenly between tests for organ compatibility and tests for antibodies that signal rejection.

On a conference call, Thermo CEO Marc N. Casper told analysts that Thermo will use its distribution infrastructure to expand One Lambda’s presence in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, where its sales are currently small but are growing quickly. At the same time, he said, One Lambda will be a conduit to sell Thermo Fisher products, including its immunosuppressant-drug-monitoring assays, to transplant centers and research labs.

The deal continues a buildup of Thermo’s year-old specialty diagnostics division, notes Isaac Ro, a stock analyst at Goldman Sachs who follows the instrumentation industry. In August 2011, the company completed the $3.5 billion acquisition of Phadia, a Swedish maker of allergy and autoimmunity diagnostics. After the One Lambda purchase, Thermo says it will have about $3 billion in annual revenues from specialty diagnostics.

Other instrumentation firms are making a similar push. In May, Agilent announced plans to acquire Dako, a Danish provider of cancer diagnostics, for $2.2 billion.

Life Technologies, meanwhile, has joined the trend with the acquisition of Navigenics, a personalized genetic test company founded in 2006 by David B. Agus, a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California. Life Technologies calls the purchase its first step in building up a molecular diagnostics business through internal development, partnerships, and select acquisitions.

Life Technologies is the only company today with the breadth of technology to span the continuum of diagnostic information, claims its CEO, Gregory T. Lucier. Navigenics’ informatics tools, he says, will allow the firm to transform data from its instruments “into actionable information and deliver it in real time to physicians around the world.”

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