GE MedicalSystems will enter the market for positron emission tomography
scanners on Jan. 1 with the acquisition of Scanditronix's PET
camera business. This endorsement of PET by the world's largest
medical imaging vendor should boost clinical acceptance of the
expensive imaging modality and may assist efforts to gain reimbursement
"The diagnostic potential (of PET) is being firmly established,"
said John Trani, senior vice president and group executive for
GE. "We are encouraged by the large bodies of research and
ongoing studies. Through these alliances, GE now stands ready
to provide the attention, resources, and innovation needed to
meet the growing needs of the PET community."
GE will also acquire the rights to sell Scanditronix's PET
cyclotrons and will assume worldwide service responsibilities
for its installed PET systems. The Milwaukee-based imaging vendor
has also signed a cooperative R&D relationship with Hamamatsu
Photonics of Japan for the development of PET detectors.
The GE/Scanditronix deal was greeted with enthusiasm from friends
and foes alike. Clinicians are more likely to risk purchasing
PET cameras when they are supported by major vendors. Competitors
are eager to see growth in the market spurred by GE's efforts.
Siemens was the largest vendor of PET systems until GE's announcement.
The West German company became a PET manufacturer when it entered
into a joint venture with CTI of Knoxville, TN, in 1987 (SCAN
11/25/87). It hopes that GE will add stability as well as increased
growth to the PET market, said David Archibald, vice president
and manager of Siemens' nuclear division in Hoffman Estates, IL.
"GE is the kind of competitor that will help stabilize
the market. We have seen a lot of price fluctuation," he
said. "We have had a dominant market share of a small market.
Even if we lose market share, the end result will be more business
for everyone if it is a much larger market."
GE has been scouting the industry for a PET partner over the
last two years, Trani said. PET sales will be handled by GE's
nuclear medicine business in the U.S., which is run by general
manager Rhonda Brooks.
Scanditronix PET personnel at the company's U.S. subsidiary
in Essex, MA, will most likely stay on to assist GE with technical
support, at least for the first year, said Wayne Webster, executive
vice president of Scanditronix.
Webster, who spent most of last month's Radiological Society
of North America meeting at the GE booth, was impressed by the
number of potential PET customers who seem much warmer to the
idea now that GE is in charge.
"A small company with a big-ticket item always raises
people's eyebrows," he said.