A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Aurora Imaging Technology (North Andover, Massachusetts) has established Aurora Asia, a wholly owned subsidiary, in Taipei, Taiwan.

The company manufactures the Aurora 1.5 Tesla Dedicated Breast MRI System, which it said is “the most technologically advanced and only FDA-approved system specifically designed to fight breast cancer.”

Aurora said the decision to set up the Taiwanese subsidiary was a direct response to the growing need for advanced breast imaging among Asian women. It said breast cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in women in Asia.

Data from the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association, the Chinese equivalent of the American Cancer Society, shows that both incidence and death rates of breast cancer in China’s major cities rose by nearly 40% over the last decade.

“Asian women are in dire need of access to the most effective breast imaging technology, such as MRI. By making our Aurora Dedicated Breast MRI System available, we increase the potential to detect cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. Clinical trials have shown that earlier detection saves lives,” said Olivia Ho Cheng, president and CEO of Aurora

Aurora’s Asian presence began in 2006 with the receipt from the State Food and Drug Administration of China of a Registration Certificate for the Aurora 1.5T Dedicated Breast MRI System. The company said that approval “opened the door for Aurora to move into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with a medical device market estimated at close to $3.5 billion.”

Aurora Asia’s president is Dr. Pai-Jung (PJ) Huang. Who the company said “brings not only a profound clinical understanding, but also a deep appreciation of the importance and technical challenges to visually present this disease using the MRI imaging technology.

Prior to being named president of the new subsidiary, Huang was Aurora’s international clinical director. “It is timely for Aurora to aggressively expand our business throughout Asia, thus allowing us to respond more effectively to the growing demand,” Huang said.

Philips to acquire Brazilian firm

Royal Philips Electronics’ Philips Medical Systems (Best, the Netherlands) unit said that it plans to acquire imaging diagnostic company VMI-Sistemas Medicos (VMI; (Minas Gerais, Brazil). The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to close before the end of the second quarter.

No financial details were disclosed.

VMI-Sistemas Medicos was founded in 1985 and has production facilities in Lagoa Santa. It has a presence in the analogical and digital X-ray market, as well as in the cath lab, mammography and ultrasound markets.

“By acquiring VMI, Philips can offer customers in Brazil and across Latin America a more complete medical diagnostic imaging product portfolio,” said Steve Rusckowski, CEO of Philips Medical Systems.

“This is our first acquisition of a healthcare company in a developing economy,” he said, “and it endorses the company’s global strategy of focusing on healthcare and investing in emerging markets, looking for solutions especially developed to address local needs.”

Philips said that between 2003 and 2006, growth in the Brazilian market for medical diagnostic imaging and monitoring equipment expanded at close to 20% per year, compared to annual growth rates in the global market of between 4% and 5%.

The Dutch company already holds what was characterized as a “prominent” position in the market for most types of medical imaging equipment. With the VMI acquisition, Philips will become a leader in general X-ray in Brazil.

Philips said it believes the move will further boost growth by capitalizing on VMI’s extensive distribution network. “Through this deal, we can build on VMI’s extensive sales and services channels in Brazil to further increase [our] access to local customers and provide a benefit to hospitals through a wider product portfolio,” said Daurio Speranzini, head of Philips Medical Systems in Latin America.

Philips said that the acquisition will give it the opportunity of producing both analogical and digital X-ray equipment in Brazil, offering “more affordable solutions” to the local market. Philips plans to boost VMI’s Brazilian exports to other countries in Latin America, which at the moment represent approximately 5% of VMI’s business.

UK distribution pact for Genomic Health

Genomic Health (Redwood City, California) said it has signed an exclusive agreement with Medical Solutions, a UK healthcare and diagnostics business specializing in diagnostic pathology and cytology services and products, to distribute the company’s Oncotype DX breast cancer assay in the UK.

“We view this partnership as an important milestone in making our Oncotype DX breast cancer assay more widely available,” said Chu Chang, Genomic Health’s vice president of business development. “We plan to continue to realize opportunities to broaden access to our test to patients outside of the U.S. who may benefit from the individualized information Oncotype DX results provide.”

Oncotype DX is currently offered for sale in Israel under a testing and services agreement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and in Japan under an agreement with SRL. Patient tumor samples from these and other countries are analyzed in Genomic Health’s reference laboratory in Redwood City.