Showtime at the APOLLO

LabCorp agrees to acquire Clearstone Central Laboratories

Lloyd Dunlap
BURLINGTON, N.C.—Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Clearstone Central Laboratories, a global provider of central laboratory services for late-stage clinical trials with facilities in Canada, China, France and Singapore.

The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and neither company agreed to answer questions when contacted by ddn.

In addition to Clearstone's labs, LabCorp also acquired Clearstone's clinical trials management system APOLLO CLPM, which provides clients with real-time access to global data, strengthened chain of custody, automated sample stability monitoring and guaranteed consistency across all lab sites, areas about which bloggers have been critical.

The Remote Data Access module provides Clearstone's clients with secure remote access to real-time global safety data and results, including sample inventory, medical monitoring and site kit inventory without added communication requests.

"From the design of every kit to the delivery of final specimen values, APOLLO captures, tracks, monitors and reports on all aspects of protocol management across all of our global sites," according to Clearstone.

In addition, the system is said to guarantee cancellations for out-of-stability samples and provide routine notices and reports on monthly kit expiration, alert and exclusion reporting and query notifications. Prelabeled tubes with pre-assignment of tests/components ensure the correct kit is always processed to the correct set of tests. This module also increases site compliance to achieve maximum efficiency and results.

Overall, Clearstone claims that "the platform provides clients the consistency they demand, by ensuring accuracy, reliability and quality results every time, regardless of geography, timeline or origin of the samples."

"This acquisition fully combines the complementary strengths of the Clearstone and LabCorp clinical trials businesses to support drug development," said David P. King, chairman and CEO of LabCorp, in the company's prepared news release announcing the deal. "This transaction is an important milestone, as it extends our global footprint and service capabilities in key geographies such as Asia Pacific, and advances the company's companion diagnostics and personalized medicine strategy."

The combined entity claims it will have the largest available biomarker assay portfolio with globally harmonized and state-of-the-art testing platforms in areas such as pharmacogenomics, microbiology, immunohistochemistry, allergy testing, cytogenetics and flow cytometry.

"We are pleased to announce this agreement because of the growth opportunity and long-term strategic value it creates for our clients," stated Clearstone CEO Lewis Cameron. "Clearstone has already been working closely with LabCorp's Esoterix division under a strategic collaboration agreement, which has resulted in a number of client success stories. We will now be a single team that is completely focused on exceeding our customer's drug development objectives."

With annual revenues of $5 billion in 2010, more than 31,000 employees worldwide and more than 220,000 clients, LabCorp offers a broad test menu ranging from routine blood analyses to reproductive genetics to DNA sequencing. LabCorp accessions more than 400,000 samples per day and annually examines in excess of 10 million cytology and 2 million surgical pathology samples. By way of comparison, Quest Diagnostics—the segment's other dominant player—handles about 500,000 samples in an average day. LabCorp conducts clinical trials testing through its Esoterix Clinical Trials Services division. Its clients include physicians, government agencies, managed care organizations, hospitals, clinical labs and pharmaceutical companies.

The refusal by the companies to comment on this story may be related to recent commentary on the Internet in the form of a website and blog that have captured dozens of negative case histories attributed to dissatisfied customers.

The website and its associated blog, www.labcorpsucks.com, is reportedly the creation of
"a simple patient who finally got fed up and was pushed into action by the insults of the managers." This "patient" alleges that LabCorp's quality of test results "is so bad that it is worthy of a full-scale government investigation. Charging individuals, insurance companies, HMOs and governments for tests that are not done or that produce inaccurate results is unethical and against the law."

"This forum will provide you full details on how to file a complaint against LabCorp with standard-of-care organizations, insurance companies, third-party payers, Medicaid, Medicare and governmental investigative agencies," writes the website's proprietor. "Once the employees involved in my case are terminated, I'll think about taking down the site."


Lloyd Dunlap

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