GE revs up the engine

12 July 2005

GE Healthcare has made two announcements that give shape to its vision of the future of medical technology. Both announcements further blur the already fluid boundary between medical equipment and health informatics.

Together with Swiss pharma giant Roche, GE will conduct trials to detect the amyloid plaques believed responsible for Alzheimer's. The two companies will use GE's PET scanning technology coupled with a specially developed imaging agent. The trials will test six new anti-Alzheimer drugs of Roche.

This is the third drugs collaboration announced by GE: it already has agreements with Pfizer and Eli Lilly. The company could sign deals with a further five pharma companies.

GE is linking its announcement with its vision of personalized medicine — the effort to move from post symptom to pre-symptom diagnosis, thanks to advances in genome and proteome science — coupled with efforts to develop drugs customisable to each patient's individual genetic make-up. Personalized medicine is the product of GE's European interests, in particular its acquisition of British firm Amersham and the leadership of Sir William Castell, now CEO of GE Healthcare. Bringing together GE's strengths in life sciences, imaging, in-vitro diagnosis and point of care, it's an effort to put clear blue water between GE and its closest European rivals: Siemens and Philips.

The other major recent announcement from GE Medical is a joint venture with Intermountain Health Care, a US healthcare provider. The two companies will work together to develop the next generation of GE's Centricity clinical information system. Initially, work will focus on a system for preventing adverse drug reactions. But down the line, the collaboration could yield an entirely new kind of EHR, one that integrates advanced clinical decision support, clinical information system functionality and bedside patient device support.

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