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Amersham Sets its Sights on Diagnostics And Continues Marketing CodeLink for Research

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Amersham will continue to sell CodeLink to researchers, but will seek to fuel growth for the product line of microarrays in the diagnostics field, an executive told BioArray News this week.

Last week, a Financial Times interview with Sir William Castell, chief executive of Amersham Biosciences’ parent company Amersham PLC, indicated that Amersham had given up on cracking Affymetrix’s research market dominance and was taking another strategic tack.

“Our strategy has not changed one bit,” said Trevor Hawkins, vice president of development, Amersham Bioscience, said. “We have been looking in the last couple of months how we could play on the strength of Amersham Health — how we can play on their products, channels, and development programs. It’s one of the reasons why we brought the business. There are great opportunities.”

Amersham purchased CodeLink last July when Motorola opted to exit the high-density microarray business for $20 million. Since then, Amersham consolidated the Chicago and Tempe, Ariz., CodeLink operation to a new 85,000 square-foot factory in Chandler, Ariz. In its year-end report, the city of Chandler estimated Amersham’s capital investment on the factory at $5.5 million.

Last week Amersham said in its mid-year report that the $10 million operating loss thus far in its Discovery Systems unit includes $7 million of net expenditures on CodeLink. Hawkins said he sees no reason why the CodeLink product line can not be profitable in 12 to 18 months. He would not comment on how much the company has spent on CodeLink since last July other than to say that the $20 million purchase price is being amortized over multiple years.

Meantime, the company continues to build the business.

“Right now, we are in the building phase, working on the infrastructure, and doing a lot of development work,” said Hawkins. “Our first endeavor was to get academia to use and accept the product. Big pharma has been the next port of call and we are going through proof-of-concept studies with the majority of big pharma companies. These accounts have been using Affymetrix, and it takes a while to turn those thoughts around to the thought there are other products.”

Hawkins said the company has completed studies that indicated CodeLink products have high condordance with the gold standard, RT-PCR. He said he would defer further comment until publication in peer-reviewed journals.

— MOK

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