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GE Healthcare Tells Investors it s Targeting Leadership in Breast Cancer Dx, Management

GE Healthcare wants to be recognized as “the first company to address the overall diagnosis and management of breast cancer.”

GE Healthcare executives made that promise last week in Chicago at an investor’s presentation coinciding with the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

The company last week presented a model for its vision of the management of oncological diseases that at one end starts with proteomics/genomics products used for screening, and then envisions microarrays used for disease prognosis and assessment, and then at the other end, a combination of positron-emission tomography and CT, as well as “new markers” being used for diagnosis of disease recurrence.

In many ways, the GE Healthcare division, with its portfolio of systems for computed tomography, magnetic resonance imagery, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, electronic information, and film- and image-management products can already be considered a leader in the traditional diagnosis and management of breast cancer, and others. But it is not alone, as it competes with giants such as Siemens, Toshiba, and Philips in this space.

GE, however, is attempting to differentiate itself from other healthcare technology vendors through the acquisition of Amersham in April, a $10.3 billion purchase made with the promise of combining the legacy tools of the business unit formerly called GE Medical Systems, with the Amersham product lines of fluorescent dyes, protein separations, and genomics tools such as the CodeLink microarray and the Megabace DNA sequencing technology.

GE did not respond to requests for comment on this strategy in time for publishing deadline.

But even with this purchase and the addition of genomic and proteomic tools from Amersham, GE Healthcare arrives at the starting line in the developing genomic-based breast cancer market behind efforts like Amsterdam-based microarray diagnostics startup Agendia, which is preparing to commercialize gene expression profiling assays for breast cancer based on Agilent Technologies microarrays.

The company’s model for its approach to the healthcare market expands the application of technology to include the use of tumor markers and PET for detection; anatomical imaging for characterization and treatment at the late stages of disease progression; and the use of gene profiling and gene repair as part of a long-term approach to early-stage testing for disease predisposition.

Investor Relations

Last week’s investor presentation was the company’s most high-profile effort to explain its market strategy and vision for the integrated business unit, and comes after GE reported its results for the quarter ending Sept. 30, the first full quarter that included Amersham’s contribution (see BCW, 10/14/2004).

The text presentation for investors is available online at the General Electric website in PDF format, but an audio documentation or a transcript of executives’ comments are not.

GE Healthcare executives who spoke at the meeting included William Castell, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, the former Amersham head and now the vice chairman of GE. Additional presenters included March Vachon, EVP and CFO of the unit; Joe Hogan, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Technologies, the new name for the former GEMS unit; Reinaold Garcia, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Technologies for diagnostic imaging; Omar Ishrak, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Technologies, global ultrasound; John Chiminski, vice president for GE Healthcare global services; Dow Wilson, president and CEO for GE Healthcare Information Technologies; Bill Clarke, chief medical and technology officer; and Peter Loescher, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences, which is represents the former Amersham business unit.

In the quarter ending Sept. 30, Amersham contributed an estimated $650 million in revenues to GE Healthcare’s $3.4 billion revenues.

GE projects total revenues of $15 billion for the healthcare segment for FY ‘05, compared to approximately $13.5 billion for FY ‘04.

Further, the company said GE Healthcare will provide a more diverse portfolio, with less cyclicality, and consistent double-digit earnings.

— Mo Krochmal ([email protected])

 

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