Orthopedic MR market gets boost with Lunar sale

August 2, 2000

Siemens isn’t concerned about sharing the dedicated extremity MR market with GE Medical Systems, even though GE may soon be selling E-Scan, a system very similar to Siemens’ Jazz. Siemens’ business leaders regard GE’s entry into the

Siemens isn’t concerned about sharing the dedicated extremity MR market with GE Medical Systems, even though GE may soon be selling E-Scan, a system very similar to Siemens’ Jazz. Siemens’ business leaders regard GE’s entry into the market as a positive move that will raise awareness about the market segment.

GE’s signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Lunar of Madison, WI, last month placed the company alongside Siemens in the dedicated MR market and expanded its presence in the bone densitometry market.

Lunar makes four x-ray-based and two ultrasound bone densitometers. The small, publicly held company ventured into MR as an adjunct to its primary business of bone densitometry, which is addressed with equipment designed to qualitatively assess the risk of osteoporosis (MRI Industry Report, 6/00). Italy-based Esaote provides the E-Scan to Lunar and the Jazz to Siemens. The primary difference between the two systems is the interface, which for Jazz was customized to match that of other Siemens MR scanners (SCAN, 6/7/00).

Nancy Gillen, vice president of Siemens’ MR business unit, declined to divulge specific figures for the company’s Jazz system but said its sales have doubled in the last six months. The system has been on the market for only a year. Lunar reported this summer that sales of the E-Scan are up (SCAN 6/7/00).

Gillen said that from what she understands about the GE and Lunar agreement, GE will simply sell and market Lunar products. Siemens engineers, on the other hand, have had some input on the technology in the Jazz system.

“(With Siemens) the customer has access to a manufacturer with a great deal of experience in MR,” Gillen said.

The deal between GE and Lunar is currently undergoing regulatory review, so GE cannot release specific information about what products it will offer or any other customer benefits, said GE spokesperson Tesha Urban.

Esaote marketing director Wim Van Kemenade said his company couldn’t comment about GE’s acquisition of Lunar until they know more about the agreement.

What is clear is the potential growth of the orthopedic medicine industry. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 1.5 million people in the U.S. experience osteoporotic fractures every year and another 18 million are at risk for developing the disease.

About a dozen companies currently offer devices capable of measuring bone density and more are continuing to enter the market. In June, Alara of Hayward, CA, received 510(k) clearance to market the MetriScan, a tabletop device that allows physicians to perform bone mineral density testing on patients at risk for osteoporosis and related bone fractures.