Mad about rads

PerkinElmer boosts reagents assets with purchase of GE Healthcare's Catalog Radiochemical products

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WALTHAM, Mass.—Seeking to enhance its reagent solution offerings, PerkinElmer Inc. announced Sept. 16 that it purchased the assets of GE Healthcare's 3H and 14C Catalog Radiochemicals, Scintillation Proximity Assay (SPA) reagents and Cytostar-T plate product lines. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

The company said the acquisition adds offerings for detection and screening of potential new drugs and expands its radiolabeling and bead-based assay technologies, enabling it to provide the world's largest selection of high-quality radiolabeled compounds to the global scientific community.  

"This acquisition is part of our long-term strategy to remain committed to radiochemical research," says Dr. Alan Fletcher, vice president of business development for PerkinElmer's Bio-discovery business and formerly, part of GE Healthcare's Life Sciences business unit. "This is a mature market and one that is not going to be replaced by technologies in the short term. We wanted to make sure that PerkinElmer could compete in this market, and this acquisition gives us an opportunity to better serve our customers and give them more options to choose from. This acquisition is a blend of our two portfolios, which allows us to consolidate the best choices for our customer into one portfolio."

GE Healthcare's Catalog Radiochemical products are used for a variety of research applications, including screening of potential drug candidates through binding assays. The SPA bead-based light-emitting assay and Cytostar-T plate technologies are offerings that enable the automation of high-throughput screening (HTS) processes, to help drug discovery researchers quickly and accurately determine if potential new drug compounds are effective against their intended disease targets.

The SPA assay is a homogeneous, versatile assay technology for the rapid and sensitive analysis of a wide range of biological processes and is particularly suited to receptor-ligand binding assays, enzyme assays, radioimmunoassays and molecular interaction assays. Cytostar-T assays are an extension of the SPA principle, applying the technology to non-invasive and real-time analysis of cellular events. A wide variety of applications for Cytostar-T Scintillating Microplates have already been identified, ranging from receptor-ligand interactions to studies of cell proliferation, drug uptake and efflux and in situ quantitation of mRNA induction.

But a GE Healthcare spokesman says that following a comprehensive review of the company's operations, GE Healthcare announced in December 2008 that it would exit the radiochemicals business.

"GE Healthcare constantly evaluates its portfolio in line with strategy and market conditions," the spokesman adds. "This decision was driven by a combination of factors which resulted in the business no longer comprising a core strategic growth area for GE."

GE Healthcare still views radiochemical-based research as an important tool to provide detailed insight in drug discovery projects such as ADME studies, the spokesman says, adding that because PerkinElmer already had established relationships with many of GE Healthcare's radiochemicals customers, its acquisition of the company's radiochemical products will ensure that customers suffer minimal disruption to their requirements.

"SPA and CytoStar-T are used in conjunction with catalogue radiochemical products, so having all of these reagents available from the same supplier increases convenience for the researchers," he says.

Fletcher says PerkinElmer will use the acquisition as a launching pad for the expansion of the company's NEN radiochemical portfolio, as well as offer its extensive lines of readers, nuclear counters and other high-performance instrumentation that provide customers with complete application solutions in radiometric detection.
"Blending our portfolios will ultimately mean that our portfolio of about 400 entities will expand to about 600 entities," he says.

Both companies are working to make sure the transition is an easy one for their respective customers, Fletcher adds. 

"We have a dedicated transition team in place, and we are already taking orders," Fletcher says. "We are making sure that all of our customers' needs are met between now and the end of the year. If a GE Healthcare customer orders a product, the order comes to us instead. We're even keeping the same product numbers because they are so well-established that people know them by heart. There has been tremendous response and acceptance from customers on both sides."

The timing is perfect for PerkinElmer, which reported weak sales in its human and environmental health businesses for the second quarter. The company previously said its profit could decrease anywhere from the mid-single digits to the mid-teens, but remained optimistic that demand from its industrial and medical imaging customers would stabilize by year's end. This acquisition comes just as PerkinElmer is seeing an uptick in business and a boost from various government stimulus packages directed in specific areas of research, Fletcher says.

"Although the market does not appear to be out of the woods yet, it is stabilizing a bit," Fletcher says. "There have been a number of large pharma mergers this year, and the dialogue we are having with customers who are in that mix suggests that they are awaiting final clarification of these deals. We expect to see an uptick in 2010, and we're also anticipating a good response to economic stimulus funds going into next year."

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