Guerbet gains toehold in U.S. with acquisition of contrast agent

March 6, 2002

Global strategy for Oxilan continues to evolveGuerbet SA has closed a deal with Cook Imaging to acquire Cook's nonionic x-ray contrast agent Oxilan (ioxilan), its production plant, and certain key personnel. These assets have been

Global strategy for Oxilan continues to evolve

Guerbet SA has closed a deal with Cook Imaging to acquire Cook's nonionic x-ray contrast agent Oxilan (ioxilan), its production plant, and certain key personnel. These assets have been incorporated into a U.S. subsidiary of the French pharmaceutical firm, called Guerbet LLC.

"Our highest priority right now is making sure that Oxilan customers have a seamless transition from Cook to our new subsidiary," said Amy Lutes, general manager of Guerbet LLC. "We have a pretty conservative plan for the first year-we want to give customers the same great service they have been getting."

Cook will continue distributing Oxilan for Bloomington, IN-based Guerbet LLC for the next few weeks. After that, Guerbet will take over. About 10 Cook employees, including sales and customer service staff, have agreed to join Guerbet as part of the deal.

Guerbet LLC will market products only in North America. Initial efforts will concentrate just on the U.S., although sales may eventually expand into Canada.

Oxilan is just the French company's first step in a long-term plan to enter the U.S. market. According to Lutes, Guerbet hopes to introduce into the U.S. other of its products, such as Dotarem (an all-purpose MRI agent), if the FDA approves them. The company plans to use this broad product line to compete for national sales contracts.

"Oxilan's appeal for Guerbet is the chance to gain exposure for its products," Lutes said. "When we get our other products approved, we'll be very attractive to contracting agencies."

Other Guerbet candidates for introduction into the U.S. include organ-specific MR contrast agents such as Endorem (liver) and Lumirem (abdomen and bowels), as well as two MR agents still in development: Sinerem (lymph node specific) and Vistarem (a blood pool agent).

Oxilan is cleared for sale in other parts of the world, and it may eventually be included in the French parent's line of global products. But a sales strategy for doing so has not yet been developed. Care must be taken, Lutes said, to ensure that Oxilan does not cut into the sales of Guerbet's other nonionic x-ray contrast agent, Xenetix.

"We need to see if it makes sense to position these products together," she said.