A Medical Device Daily

WellPoint (Indianapolis), one of the nation's largest health benefits providers, reported entering into an agreement to acquire American Imaging Management (AIM; Deerfield, Illinois), a radiology benefit management and technology company with health plan clients representing more than 20 million consumers.

Wellpoint said the acquisition directly ties to its strategy to become the leader in affordable quality care and the most trusted choice for consumers.

WellPoint will pay about $300 million in cash to acquire Imaging Management Holdings (IMH), the holding company parent of AIM, IMH's sole business. The acquisition is expected to close in 3Q07 subject to customary approvals required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

Diagnostic imaging is one of the fastest growing types of healthcare expenditures in the U.S., with a double digit annual growth rate. WellPoint said it has seen a dramatic reduction in its radiology trend with AIM's technology and expertise. This transaction will enable WellPoint to apply AIM's capabilities to other high-tech, high-cost categories where technology is driving uncertainty in ordering and increased healthcare costs, it said.

"By acquiring AIM, we can further manage costs and help improve the quality of radiology services for our members while at the same time support AIM in their development of initiatives to help manage future high cost technology services," said Angela Braly, president/CEO of WellPoint. "AIM makes innovative use of technology and creates easy-to-use programs that help ensure consumers receive the quality services they need while eliminating unnecessary testing and costs."

"AIM's technology helps physicians and their patients choose the highest quality, most cost effective sites for diagnostic imaging services," said Dr. Sam Nussbaum, executive VP and chief medical officer for WellPoint. "Their proven technologies and capabilities can be expanded to improve healthcare quality and help optimize costs in other key areas such as orthopedics, cardiology, lab services and specialty pharmacy."

AIM says that it pioneered the integration of technology and clinical content for radiology management by introducing web-based prior authorization in 2002. This platform allows ordering physicians to directly submit information and receive real-time evaluation against widely accepted clinical guidelines through an easy-to-use interface.

AeonClad Coatings (Austin, Texas) reported obtaining an exclusive license from theUniversity of Texas at Arlington for a plasma coating technology for medical and industrial applications. Terms of the license acquisition were not disclosed.

AeonClad, a portfolio company of Emergent Technologies Fund IV, is headed by Dr. Richard Timmons, chief scientist, and Tony Taylor, managing director.

AeonClad's plasma deposition technology is a new method for coating nanoparticles and devices, with the ability to custom-design the molecular surface to suit the environment in which it will be used. Applications include improved biocompatibility of medical implants and enhanced functionality of coated particles for laboratory and industrial purification processes.

"The plasma deposition process starts with a monomer gas and then efficiently deposits thin polymeric films to any nearby surface," said Timmons "The variable duty cycle pulsed plasma we have developed provides excellent compositional control of the coatings."

The company said its pulsing algorithm is a significant improvement over existing plasma deposition methods because it maximizes surface deposition rates and minimizes surface ablation.

"This new method is a breakthrough in nanotechnology coatings since it allows for ultra-thin, highly controllable, functional surfaces with no 'pin-holes' that inhibit a device's intended function," said Timmons.

In other dealmaking: Calypte Biomedical (Lake Oswego, Oregon), a medical diagnostic tests manufacturer for the rapid detection of antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), reported that it has leased an 11,000 square foot site in Portland.

Calypte said the site permits the consolidation of its research laboratory and administrative functions and will become the company's new headquarters. The site also provides manufacturing space, which the company said it plans to utilize to build pilot lots for clinical trials in the U.S.

The company expects these studies to be a prelude for submitting a formal application for approval with the FDA.

"This facility is our first step in reestablishing our presence in the U.S. diagnostic test market and moving toward approval of our Aware HIV- 1/2 oral test in the U.S. We plan to start by commencing the process of filing for FDA approval of an oral fluid test for professional use," said Roger Gale, CEO and chairman of Calypte.

"One of the uses of funds from the recently-completed PIPE is to advance our efforts to market our oral fluid tests in the U.S. market," Gale said. "Calypte has invested over $3 million to acquire technology and equipment to take advantage of this opportunity. While multiple outcomes are possible, our objective for beginning the FDA regulatory process is to ultimately receive approval for manufacturing and distribution of an over-the-counter oral fluid HIV diagnostic test in the U.S."

Calypte said it will occupy the new facility in September.