Is Diagnostics the New Biotech...and Will Pharma Embrace It?
The early biotech industry thrived on a combination of hope and hype while diagnostics, which evolved using many of the same tools, was traditionally viewed -- and priced -- almost as a commodity. Now we're seeing the advent of complex, high-value diagnostics. As the techniques underlying tests increase in their biological complexity and the knowledge base of their developers about specific disease areas deepens, is the value proposition becoming more biotech-like?
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With current technology and resources, a well-funded in vitro diagnostics company can create and pursue a strategy of information gathering and informatics application to create medical knowledge, enabling it to assume the risk and manage certain segments of patients. But few if any pharma or diagnostics firms appear poised to take advantage.
Nontraditional buyers, including Big Pharmas, life science tool companies, diversified conglomerates, and even food companies, are snapping up molecular diagnostics assets with increasing frequency, applying a variety of models to enhance their businesses.
Clinical laboratories in the US and Europe are facing pressure from all sides as budget cuts and staffing shortages compete with a growing demand for ever-more-sophisticated lab tests to serve an aging population. As a result, lab directors are seeking innovative ways to improve efficiency and do more with less, and those goals are driving innovation in technology-based solutions such as laboratory automation and informatics. These solutions are increasingly becoming integrated into the total laboratory process – encompassing not only sample analysis, but also up- and downstream workflows – paving the way for the fully integrated, automated lab of the future.