News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Lab Industry Entrepreneur Launches New Lab to Offer Molecular Tests to Dentists

For the third time in the past ten years, laboratory industry entrepreneur Brian Carr is heading up a new laboratory company he helped found. Earlier this week, OralDNALabs, Inc. of Brentwood, Tennessee, announced it was open for business. Carr will be its President and Chief Executive Officer.

OralDNALabs has a unique strategy. It plans to offer genetic tests to dentists. It is starting with two proprietary molecular assays. One test, MyPerioPath, uses DNA to identify both the presence and bacterial load of pathogens associated with periodontal disease. The second test, My PerioID PST, uses technology licensed from Interleukin Genetics Inc. (AMEX:ILI) of Waltham, Massachusetts. This test is predictive of the patient’s susceptibility to periodontal disease by analyzing the Interleukin 1 genes. With these first two assays, OralDNALabs says that it will provide dentists with a more precise method for diagnosing and treating gingivitis and periodontitus.

Brian Carr was involved in starting two other laboratory companies. In 1998, he was one of the original founders of Pathology Consultants of America, Inc., (PCA) based in Brentwood, Tennessee, where he served as CEO (see The Dark Report, April 13, 1998). PCA was acquired by AmeriPath, Inc. in December 2000. Then, in April 2004, Carr formed American Esoteric Laboratories, Inc. (AEL), also headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee (see The Dark Report, April 26, 2004). Carr was Chairman and CEO of AEL up until its acquisition by Sonic Healthcare Ltd in December 2006.

Now, with the launch of his third laboratory company in the past ten years, Carr will attempt to bring molecular diagnostics to the dental profession. As careful readers of Dark Daily will recall, we have written in recent months about research studies that are using saliva specimens to diagnose a variety of diseases, including cancer (see Advances in Salivary Diagnostics Point to New Ways to Detect Cancer and Other Diseases). Experts predict that many of these emerging diagnostic technologies will find ready application in oral health. Newly-formed OralDNALabs may be the first laboratory company organized specifically to serve dentists and other oral health professionals. As they do, they must answer a fundamental question: are dentists ready to order laboratory tests as a regular part of their daily routine?

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Sonic Healthcare Expands with Acquisition of American Esoteric Laboratories

Few people were prepared for Friday’s announcement that Sonic Healthcare, Limited of Sidney Australia will acquire American Esoteric Laboratories, Inc. (AEL) of Nashville, Tennessee.

However, Sonic’s purchase of AEL provides several useful insights about the competitive laboratory marketplace and will be the lead story in The Dark Report which is at the printer today. Sonic will pay approximately $180 million cash to acquire American Esoteric Laboratories.  Subject to regulatory approvals, seller and buyer are working to close the deal in early January.

More details about this acquisition are in our full intelligence briefing in The Dark Report. For owners of independent laboratories, there is good news. Sonic is paying a fairly strong multiple of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). On one hand, this shows the demand for good laboratory business, since there were other buyers who looked at purchasing American Esoteric Laboratories and Sonics offer would reflect that demand. On the other hand, it shows that Sonic Healthcare is willing to pay a strong price for laboratory business operations it considers a solid platform for ongoing growth.

When completed, this acquisition will mean that Sonic Healthcare’s business divisions in the United States are providing laboratory testing services to clients in 14 states. Since it first entered the U.S. lab testing market with its acquisition of Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL) in late 2005, Sonic Healthcare has taken careful steps to expand its presence in regional markets throughout the United States. By acquiring AEL, Sonic gains a significant presence in Memphis, Tennessee, through AEL’s Memphis Pathology Laboratories (MPL).

Finally, The Dark Report knows that Sonic Healthcare is having discussions with other independent laboratory companies. Our prediction is that Sonic Healthcare will acquire several significant laboratory operations during 2007. For reasons explained in detail in our Dark Report intelligence briefing, some laboratory owners consider Sonic Healthcare to be a more attractive acquirer than the two blood brothers. Thus, it is likely that Sonic�s next few laboratory acquisitions will involve a least one of the nation’s most prominent, independent regional laboratory companies.

Should you have comments or insights on this acquisition, please contact Robert at

PS: Cognescenti Health Institute, a division of Sonic Healthcare, disclosed that Philip Chen, M.D., Ph.D., founder of Cognescenti and Vice President and Chief Medical Informatics Officer for Clinical Pathology Laboratories. Inc., on the Board of Directors for the Central Florida Regional Health Information Organization Details of this strategic informatics initiative are in the December 18, 2006 issue of The Dark Report.

American Esoteric Laboratories Acquires DRL Labs in Tyler, Texas

American Esoteric Laboratories (AEL) announced yesterday that it has acquired DRL Labs (DRL), an affiliate of East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) Regional Healthcare System, located in Tyler, Texas. In purchasing DRL Labs, AEL gets a new, state-of-the-art, 25,000 square foot laboratory facility in Tyler that serves over 1,800 physician and hospital clients. DRL Labs is owned by a hospital system and it is primarily organized to serve office-based physicians.

This transaction is noteworthy to the laboratory community for three reasons. First, DRL is in Tyler, about 100 miles east of the Dallas metro where AEL operates its main reference laboratory. Although AEL is getting some hospital reference work from the acquisition, most of the business it will acquire through the DRL laboratory is routine testing that originates from doctor’s offices.

Second, the transaction is noteworthy because this is the third time that AEL has acquired a laboratory company that is primarily offering routine testing services to office-based physicians. The other two acquisitions were Memphis Pathology Laboratories in Memphis, Tennessee (See The October 2004 Dark Report) and Physicians Medical Laboratory (PML) located in Morristown, Tennessee, in April of 2006.

Finally, fact that AEL has acquired laboratory companies that primarily provide routine testing services to office-based physicians may be a sign that competition for hospital reference and esoteric testing continues to be challenging. Thus, AEL is seeking supplementary growth by acquiring laboratories that provide routine testing to office-based physicians. The Monday issue of The Dark Report includes an assessment of competitive developments in the national market for reference and esoteric testing that are benefiting hospital reference customers.

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