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Gen-Probe's DNA Play

Executive Summary

Gen-Probe is one of the few successful players in the emerging field of DNA probes. Long a niche player, it is teaming up with bioMerieux and Chiron to tackle bigger, more complex markets in blood banking and viral and cancer diagnostics. To do this, it needs to acquire a new set of skills.

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Blood Brothers: Chiron and Gen-Probe

The FDA's approval of Procleix HIV-1/ HCV combination assays all but cemented Chiron and Gen-Probe's dominance of DNA-based screening of the US blood supply. The approval changes the economics of providing HIV/ HCV screening to blood banks. The blood banks had been using Procleix or two separate tests supplied by Roche under IND status, paying at cost. Now, they have to pay commercial prices for Procleix. The hike is stretching budgets, but, for a variety of reasons, still more than 70% of US blood banks use Procleix, which is a combination of two assays on one sample.

A Tepid Wedding, Now A Possible Divorce

The year-old union of bioMerieux-Pierre Fabre appears to be on the verge of disintegrating, amid lack of a coherent strategy, disagreements between the two founders who spearheaded the deal, and departure of key top executives. The company won't comment except to say that it is considering various alternatives including a break-up. Unraveling should not be difficult, since the two companies haven't integrated much. And the separation would leave bioMerieux, now the world's eighth largest diagnostics company, and Pierre Fabre, one of France's largest independent pharmaceutical companies, free to seek more appropriate solutions to the challenges they face.

WHO Refines Approach For Listing Products In Health Emergencies

A revised procedure is in place to temporarily list unlicensed products for use in public health emergencies. 

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