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Syncor targets radiopharmacy growth

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Radiopharmacy vendor Syncor International is making an aggressivepush to expand the number of radiopharmacies in its national chainin anticipation of health-care reform. The Chatsworth, CA companyplans to take advantage of managed care's emphasis on more

Radiopharmacy vendor Syncor International is making an aggressivepush to expand the number of radiopharmacies in its national chainin anticipation of health-care reform. The Chatsworth, CA companyplans to take advantage of managed care's emphasis on more centralized,cost-efficient health care, according to president and CEO GeneMcGrevin.

Syncor has enjoyed strong growth over the last four years,with revenues increasing at a 22% clip each year. The company'sshare of the nuclear medicine radiopharmacy market stands at 65%.

Much of Syncor's growth has been driven by the success of tworadiopharmaceuticals, DuPont Merck's Cardiolite cardiac SPECTagent and I.V. Persantine, a pharmacological stress tester. Theseagents have spearheaded the rapid growth of nuclear medicine'scardiology segment, according to McGrevin.

This growth is certain to slow as other modalities, such asMRI and CT, begin to make inroads on nuclear medicine's turf.The key to nuclear medicine's future success will be the modality'scontinuing evolution into new frontiers of imaging, McGrevin said.

"We're moving into monoclonals and peptides and PET technologythat measure the change in (body) chemistry prior to an impacton an organ's function," McGrevin said. "Over time I'msure (nuclear medicine) will be hit by other modalities, but aslong as we're on the cutting edge and moving into body chemistry,I think it's going to secure the position of nuclear medicine."

While anticipation of health-care reform has had some negativeimpact, nuclear medicine equipment purchasing and utilizationhas not been hurt as badly as other modalities, he said. Thisis due partly to the fact that scintigraphy is less exploratoryin nature than MRI or CT, and is usually being used to specifya disease once it has already been identified.

Health-care reform meshes well with Syncor's mission of providingcentralized radiopharmacy services. Central radiopharmacies canbe cheaper and safer in handling radioactive materials than theaverage hospital, according to McGrevin.

"There has been a rapid shift from hospitals doing theirown pharmacy and buying the product directly from the manufacturers,"McGrevin said. "They are shifting that function over to companieslike Syncor. We believe that by 1997 you could see as high as70% of all drug delivery in nuclear medicine being done throughcentral radiopharmacies."

Central radiopharmacies in 1989 accounted for about 43% ofall the doses delivered in nuclear medicine; this year they willaccount for 60% of all doses.

Syncor presently operates 108 radiopharmacies. The companyintends to have 130 by 1997.

"What we're attempting to do is to strengthen our distributionsystem to let hospitals in some of these smaller cities have betteraccess to radiopharmacies," McGrevin said. "Expandingour network is an important part of our strategy this year."

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