Elscint stakes out PET position with Positron marketing agreement

June 30, 1993

Elscint adds another card to its imaging hand with the formationthis month of a marketing and distribution agreement with positronemission tomography manufacturer Positron. The relationship givesElscint access to a PET camera without having to invest in

Elscint adds another card to its imaging hand with the formationthis month of a marketing and distribution agreement with positronemission tomography manufacturer Positron. The relationship givesElscint access to a PET camera without having to invest in yearsof research and development. Positron, for its part, has pluggedinto a strong international nuclear medicine sales network.

Under the agreement, the Haifa, Israel-based Elscint will handleinternational sales, marketing and service of Positron's Posicamfamily of cameras, with the option of privately labeling Positronequipment. Positron will continue to market cameras in North America.The agreement was revealed at the Society of Nuclear Medicinemeeting in Toronto.

Elscint thus gains a low-risk entree into the still-embryonicPET market, avoiding the costs that would accrue by developinga PET program from the ground up. Competitors GE and Siemens havetaken similar paths to PET. GE took the plunge by purchasing thePET business of Sweden's Scanditronix (SCAN 12/13/89). GE hassince developed its own scanner and cyclotron in-house (SCAN 12/16/92).

A decade ago, Positron, Scanditronix and CTI of Knoxville,TN, were mid-sized, independent PET developers pioneering thecapital-intensive modality while the major multimodality imagingvendors hesitated to dip in directly. Siemens began selling CTI-manufacturedPET cameras on an OEM basis and broadened that relationship intoa joint venture company, CTI PET Systems (SCAN 11/25/87).

Despite the efforts of vendors and the nuclear medicine profession,PET remains on the fringe of commercial and clinical viability,constrained by cost and reimbursement concerns. But Elscint foreseesgrowing demand for the medical imaging modality, according toDaniel A. Halpern, director of sales operations and market development.

"PET has a role to play," Halpern said. "Evenif it's not the core business of Elscint, and even if we havenot invested from the outset of development, this (agreement)gives us a window into the technology as it picks up."

Elscint's strong presence in the international nuclear medicinemarket is attractive to Positron, according to vice presidentof sales Howard R. Baker.

"They are the largest nuclear medicine players in Europe,"Baker said. "They have a very diverse product line and havevery highly trained people in nuclear medicine."

Growth in the international market is largely free of the tanglesover reimbursement that have snared PET's growth in the U.S.,Baker said, making that market more tempting to the Houston-basedvendor. Positron began marketing scanners internationally lastyear.

"The international market is more active," Bakersaid. "The majority of our sales prospects at the SNM meetingcame from overseas."

Among the cameras Elscint's international sales force willbe selling is the Posicam HZL, a recently upgraded camera. HZLfeatures a smaller detector size that improves resolution in thez or depth axis. HZL's resolution in all three planes is now 5.8mm, according to Baker.

While Positron has in the past optimized its cameras for cardiacimaging applications, the HZL upgrade represents a move towardcomparable quality for whole-body and brain imaging.

PET sales growth will be based on expanded clinical work ratherthan research applications, Baker said. Positron enhanced theclinical utility of its HZL camera with a 16.6-cm axial field-of-viewand 61-slice acquisition scan cycle.

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