A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Avitar (Canton, Massachusetts), developer of the world's first on-site oral test for drugs of abuse, said that the government of Egypt has approved its OralScreen oral fluid-based drug testing products for sale.

"Acceptance by the government of Egypt, a country with a population of over 75 million, demonstrates the tremendous worldwide market potential for saliva-based drug testing products," said Pete Phildius, Avitar's CEO. "We're confident that our position as the performance leader in oral-based testing solutions continues to differentiate Avitar from our competitors and play a very important role in our future growth."

The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Trade have approved the sale of Avitar products, including the company's OralScreen disposable tests for illicit drugs, and the company's OSR handheld electronic reader.

Avitar's business partner in Egypt is Egyptian International Company for Environmental Protection (EICEP), a distribution firm with international reach. EICEP has signed an agreement with a reseller in the Middle East with more than 30 sales locations across Egypt and 13 additional offices in additional Arab countries.

DiaSys signs up Chilean distributor

Global diagnostics products firm DiaSys (Waterbury, Connecticut) has entered into an agreement with Galenica, the largest diagnostics distributor in Chile, to distribute its products throughout that country.

"We continue to rapidly enter new markets through leading diagnostics distributors," said Jose Puig, DiaSys sales manager for Latin America. "Galenica has a strong track record in the medical community in Chile, and we believe that this agreement will help us reach many of the largest potential customers for our innovative medical tests."

Founded in 1985, Galenica has 20 technical support personnel located in two offices in Chile supporting its 12-person sales force. Galenica exclusively represents companies such as Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, California) and Bio-Rad (San Diego). Its annual revenue is approximately $8 million.

Previously, DiaSys entered into distribution agreements with Tecnodiagnostica, the largest distributor of clinical diagnostic products in Costa Rica, Repreclin, a large clinical diagnostics distributor based in Venezuela and Grupo Mex Lab, a leading Mexican distributor of diagnostics products.

Taiwan is newest market for MSI

Medical Services International (MSI; Edmonton, Alberta) said it has expanded into Taiwan. The company reported reaching a distribution agreement for its VScan HIV test kit with a large pharmaceutical company headquartered in that country.

MSI said its receipt of regulatory approval in China, India and Vietnam and its accumulation of "significant test data" from Southeast Asia "was instrumental in negotiating a deal that is very favorable to the company."

In order to maintain its distributorship, the unnamed pharmaceutical company must purchase a minimum of 1 million HIV test kits in the first year of the contract. Each subsequent year of the three-year contract, the distributor must purchase in excess of 1.5 million HIV test kits per year.

The HIV test kits for this contract will be supplied from MSI's Shanghai facility. The company said it expects to begin shipping to Taiwan within the next 45 days.

MSI said there also has been "significant interest" in Taiwan for both its Tuberculosis test kit and Dengue fever test kits, and that negotiations are ongoing related to those kits.

The VScan rapid test kit is a single-use, disposable and easy-to-use test for the screening of HIV 1 & 2, hepatitis B & C, tuberculosis, Dengue fever, West Nile virus and syphilis.

Liver iron test gets okay in U.S.

Resonance Health (Perth, Australia) said its subsidiary, Inner Vision Biometrics (IVB; also Perth), has achieved FDA marketing approval for FerriScan, its non-invasive diagnostic test for liver iron concentration.

The company said an estimated 4 million people in the U.S. are afflicted with an iron overload disease such as hemochromotosis and thalassemia.

U.S. approval for FerriScan follows the listing of FerriScan by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and European CE mark approval achieved at the end of 2004.

Existing partnerships with diagnostic imaging companies will be used to offer the test in Australia and Europe, while partnerships with such companies are also being developed for the U.S.

Tony Fitzgerald, executive director of Resonance Health, said, "We will be meeting with major U.S.-based diagnostic imaging groups over the next several weeks to accelerate arrangements for the U.S. commercial launch of the FerriScan test. The U.S. has a well-developed MRI infrastructure and attractive pricing to underpin commercial success for FerriScan."

European office for Aperio Technologies

Aperio Technologies (Vista, California), a provider of virtual microscopy systems, has opened a European operations center in Alton, Hampshire, 60 miles southwest of London. The new facility was opened in order to support Aperio's growing European customer base. It houses a customer service and support center as well as a demonstration suite showcasing Aperio's line of virtual microscopy systems.

Saying that his firm is the first major virtual microscopy company to operate in Europe, Martin Stuart, vice president of sales, said, "Recent installations of ScanScope systems at teaching hospitals, research facilities and pharmaceutical companies throughout Europe underscore the rapid adoption of our innovative technology."

Virtual microscopy is the practice of converting entire glass microscope slides to high-resolution digital slides images of an entire slide that can be remotely viewed on computer monitors eliminating the need for conventional microscopes.

According to Aperio, pathologists who use its ScanScope systems "are able to make faster, more accurate and more in-depth interpretations." It said archival and retrieval, education, quality assurance, frozen section interpretation, secondary consultations and entire-slide image analysis all are improved through use of the systems.

CEO Dirk Soenksen said, "The European community is definitely taking the lead in driving large-scale innovations in pathology. Digital pathology initiatives, such as PathGrid and the UK's ambitious and well-funded Modernizing Pathology Services initiative, point out the benefits attainable by integrating virtual microscopy into slide-based pathology."

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