PracSys plans PET center networkusing new linear accelerator design

September 11, 1996

Company retools business plan after healthcare reformLinear accelerator developer PracSys is planning to develop anetwork of PET imaging centers using linear accelerators ratherthan cyclotrons to produce fluorodeoxyglucose. The company hasalso

Company retools business plan after healthcare reform

Linear accelerator developer PracSys is planning to develop anetwork of PET imaging centers using linear accelerators ratherthan cyclotrons to produce fluorodeoxyglucose. The company hasalso signed an agreement with radiopharmaceutical firm AmershamHealthcare/Medi-Physics to distribute FDG produced in PracSysaccelerators.

PracSys debuted at the 1993 Society of Nuclear Medicine meetingin Toronto with its nested high-voltage generator (NHVG) linearaccelerator (SCAN 6/16/93). PracSys touted the generator as alow-cost, low-weight alternative to cyclotrons for producing FDG.The PracSys NHVG accelerator weighs 1500 pounds and is easierto site than a cyclotron, according to the Melrose, MA, company.

PracSys originally intended to sell the accelerators to hospitalsand other facilities establishing clinical PET centers. The companyfound itself on the wrong end of the healthcare reform wave, however,which swamped sales of big-ticket medical devices like PET scanners.

PracSys went back to the drawing board and developed a plan tobuild and operate PET imaging facilities centered around its accelerators.The company's new plan takes advantage of the reluctance amonghospitals to start new businesses like PET centers, accordingto Wayne Webster, a Scanditronix veteran and president and CEOof PracSys.

"Hospitals are less entrepreneurial than ever, due to thingslike the reimbursement scheme," Webster said. "Thatopens the door for companies that can turn something like thisinto a business."

PracSys plans to open its first PET center in the first halfof 1997. It has not yet disclosed the location of the center,but has four potential sites to choose from, Webster said. PracSysselected the sites based on demographic data that indicate whetherthe area is likely to be able to support a center.

PracSys will pair its accelerator with a PET camera purchasedfrom one of the three vendors -- Positron, Siemens, and GE --selling the devices. The company last month announced that ithad closed a private stock placement of $1 million that will allowit to move the NHVG accelerator out of an R&D phase and intoa manufacturing phase.

The deal with Amersham/Medi-Physics should give PracSys an additionalsource of revenue from sales of FDG in the regions near its centers.FDG's short half-life prevents radiopharmaceutical companies fromdistributing the tracer on a nationwide basis, as is done withother radiopharmaceuticals.

The establishment of regional cyclotrons to distribute FDG isthe idea behind P.E.T.Net Pharmaceutical Services, a joint venturebetween Syncor International and cyclotron developer CTI (SCAN6/19/96 and 5/22/96). PracSys may allow Amersham/Medi-Physicsto establish a source of FDG that is an alternative to P.E.T.Net.

Despite the tardiness of the PET market in reaching its fullpotential, PracSys believes that the dream of clinical PET isstill alive, especially in the areas it has selected for its centers.

"We have worked with the demographics," Webster said."The demand is there."