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Weiss leads Biotest from nature to launch.

Prepare for launch. Biotest's U.S. business was established with the introduction of high-quality instruments and reagents designed for both the industrial microbiology market, air samplers, and particle-counting instruments, and the clinical diagnostic market with a full line of typing reagents for organ-transplant-compatibility testing. Our experienced team of professionals provide field sales and service, product management, and technical and customer service. To meet market demands for more choice, more cost-effective solutions, and improved operational efficiency, we are preparing to introduce later this year two major product lines currently available in Europe. We have increased our staff by 40% to maintain and enhance customer service, and to prepare for the product launches.

Industry impacts. Over the past 10 years, the U.S. transfusion-diagnostic market saw two major events significantly impact the industry. First was the consolidation of suppliers, resulting in only two in the United States that have marketed a full line of reagents since 1998. Thus, reagent prices increased dramatically over the last six years, while at the same time, the price of blood products also increased substantially, putting pressure on blood-bank budgets. Second was the introduction of blood-bank automation in 1999. Blood-bank managers also are having a difficult time staffing with qualified personnel, so full automation has helped to maintain safety and improve productivity. Together, our TANGO blood-bank automated system introduced in late 2005 and our plan for later this year to introduce a full line of manual reagents give our customers an opportunity for more choices and easier access to products they need to help their patients.

Patient-care priorities. Our company's new logo includes the phrase "From Nature For Life," which represents our long-standing commitment to researching and developing high-quality therapies and diagnostics derived from the collection of plasma. Our employees understand the important role our products serve in treating and managing patient care. Every new employee participates in a training program developed for his specific responsibilities, and current employees are offered continuing education to keep their skills updated. The majority of our training is performed in-house by our staff and, in some cases, an outside consultant will conduct a training program.

Personnel challenges. The number one challenge I hear from lab managers is finding and retaining qualified personnel. Many medical technologists already work two or more jobs; most will retire over the next 10 to 15 years. So, who--or what--will take their place? I believe the pressure on the traditional lab will be reduced with the acceptance and expansion of point-of-care testing. In addition, regional health networks will be forced to consolidate more testing services to their major hospitals or a reference lab. Fewer testing sites and more lab automation may help reduce the impact of the labor shortage, but will physicians be willing to wait for the results? As the industry invests to upgrade and improve IT systems, sharing test data and patient information will become more efficient, thus offsetting the effect, of lab consolidation.

Education is key. The industry must find a way to get access to students as early as possible. Attracting students to the industry and keeping current personnel in the field will require a combination of promoting the professional opportunities to students perhaps as early as in high school and offering current employees continuing education via in-house programs or through tuition reimbursement. For example, as a chemistry major in college, a career in medical technology was never presented to me as an option. Our company offers customers continuing-education programs focused primarily on the new technologies we have or plan to introduce in the United States.

By Patrick Farrell, Associate Editor




President, Biotest Diagnostics Corp. since 2004

Director of Sales, Immucor, 2000

Director of Sales, AVL Scientific, 1996

Career began in Sales and Marketing, Abbott Laboratories, 1982


BS, Chemistry; Master's in Business Administration

University of Georgia, 1982


Enjoys spending time with family, (pictured above with sons--Eric at right and Matthew in center--in Yellowstone National Park), playing golf, and competing in masters swimming.
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Title Annotation:Executive snapshot; Biotest Diagnostics Corp.
Author:Farrell, Patrick
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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