2010, in a word, was about change. Personally, my family and I moved from Mayo Clinic in cold and snowy Rochester, MN to private practice in slight less cold and snowy Charlotte, NC. So far the move and new opportunities have exceeded our personal and professional expectations. My many thanks to the readers and sponsors for your continued support, ideas, comments and criticisms.
The anatomic pathology and digital pathology market also saw many changes, particularly within the last few months of this year, namely, Ventana's acquisition of BioImagene , GE's acquisition of Clarient, Sonic's acquisition of CBL Path and Philips, Omnyx and Leica having a greater presence in the digital pathology space. About this time last year Danaher made an offer to acquire Genetix which earlier acquired SlidePath and is the parent company of Leica Microsystems. That deal closed in March of this year. Most recently CRI's acquisition by Caliper Life Sciences was announced in the world of optical imaging technologies.
The arrival of the large healthcare companies with digital pathology products (Philips and Omnyx) was expected and we have seen hints of their efforts for some time before nearing production mode for distribution. Leica's offerings were also present but on a smaller scale as they have ramped up production as well going into 2011. By all accounts, the introduction of the large healthcare technology and last of the traditional microscope companies into the the digital pathology space shows maturation of the technology and the value these companies see in the digital pathology market.
The acquisition of Clarient is interesting on several fronts. Does GE have intentions of becoming a pathology services provider and stepping out beyond providing technology? Will it do the same with its greater presence and bigger market with radiology imaging than currently exists with molecular diagnostics and the hopes of personalized medicine? And where does these leave Omnyx? Arguably it will make it more difficult for them to sell to other large reference laboratories if they view Clarient, A GE Healthcare Company and Omnyx as a GE Company. Clearly Omnyx and Philips both need and will have a place in large reference laboratories and large academic/university medical centers given their high volume, high throughput scanning and respective emphasis on workflow and PACS-enabled viewing. Does a company like Philips benefit from the GE-Clarient deal? Will GE keep Clarient? For how long?
CBL Path's acquisition by Sonic Healthcare, the large international laboratory services company gives Sonic another US laboratory, a presence in New York state and molecular pathology.
Perhaps most interesting to goings on in digital pathology is the sale of BioImagene to Ventana, a company Roche paid close to $4 billion about 3 years ago. It was not a secret when Siemens invested in BioImagene and brought in Ajit Singh, PhD, that his job was to get BioImagene sold. What does it mean for the industry now? Historically, BioImagene was very aggressive with their pricing models and placed numerous systems. Despite that, it is unlikely they ever generated more than $10 million a year in revenue.
Ventana now has an offering in digital pathology to sell with their suite of stainers and stains that their competitors do not have. Ventana customers can now have a complete end-to-end solution from staining to scanning with image analysis algorithms optimized for their stains.
Leica of course produces microscopes, routine stainers and coverslippers and could perhaps develop an end-to-end solution from H&E to coverslip to scanner with their own image management and analysis in conjunction with SlidePath as both companies are owned by the same parent company. This may also offer Leica a competive advantage offer Philips and Omnyx who do not have a similar presence in anatomic pathology laboratories.
With talk of "lot of money on the sidelines", talk of billion dollar IPOs in the offering for 2011 according to the Wall Street Journal, signs of economic rebound, as well as changes in healthcare it will be interesting to see what the next year brings for digital pathology vendors and consumers.