Clinical pathology laboratory customers of Beckman Coulter shouldn’t see major changes

Yesterday came news that Danaher Corporation (NYSE: DHR) of Washington, D.C., would acquire Beckman Coulter, Inc., (NYSE: BEC) of Brea, California, in a transaction valued at $6.8 billion. Beckman is among the world’s larger manufacturers of in vitro diagnostics (IVD) analyzers and automation for clinical pathology laboratories.

For pathologists and medical laboratory administrators, the significance of the acquisition is that consolidation continues in the IVD testing industry. Beckman Coulter itself grew to substantial size through a series of acquisitions it completed over the past two decades. For 2009, Beckman Coulter reported revenue of $3.3 billion.

Beckman Coulter will become part of Danaher’s Medical Technologies division.

Beckman Coulter will become part of Danaher’s Medical Technologies division.

Beckman Coulter will become part of Danaher’s Medical Technologies division. Danaher segments this division into two components: Life Sciences and Diagnostics, and Dental. For 2010, the Medical Technologies division will report sales of almost $4 billion.

For pathologists and clinical laboratory managers, Danaher Corporation will not be a new name. The company has steadily built its presence in pathology and clinical laboratory testing. Some of the Danaher brands are quite familiar to medical laboratory professionals. Here are the companies which operate in Danaher’s Life Sciences and Diagnostics business division:

AB SCIEX

Invetech

Leica BioSystems

Leica Microsystems

Molecular Devices

Radiometer

At Forbes.com, reporter David Whelan offered several reasons why Beckman Coulter likely picked this moment to put itself up for sale. “Beckman Coulter, based in Brea, Calif., makes medical diagnostic instruments like centrifuges for hospital laboratories,” wrote Whelan. “The struggling company’s stock hasn’t moved in five years and it’s recently had some quality control problems with its test to detect a heart attack.”

Whelan also zeroed in on the potential for the pending 2.3% medical device tax—part of the Obamacare legislation passed last year and scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013—as another reason that prospects for some IVD companies are not so rosy. “The zeitgeist for medical manufacturers is not good,” observed Whelan. “Device-makers are having a terrible time getting new products that might give them pricing power approved by the FDA. Health reform adds a new 2.3% excise tax on many of the companies (though not lab equipment). …Health reform points to a world of centralized rationing through Medicare and a return to capitated payments by private payers. This is not the time to be selling fancy new hospital equipment.”

Clinical laboratories and pathology groups that are customers of Beckman Coulter are not likely to see many changes. Danaher is a fast-growing company that has established a reputation for sustained growth and profitability. In recent years, it has been actively seeking acquisitions in molecular diagnostics and genetic testing.

–Joe Burns

Related Information:

Danaher to Acquire Beckman Coulter, Inc. for $83.50 per share or $6.8 Billion

Beckman Coulter board approves sale to Danaher

Beckman Deal Moves Danaher Deeper Into Technology Sector

Danaher Acquires Beckman Coulter: Are Health Care Companies Waving The White Flag?