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In Brief This Week: Illumina, UnitedHealthcare, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and More

NEW YORK – In a form 10-Q filed last week with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Illumina disclosed that it will soon begin issuing $35 million monthly continuation payments to Grail as part of the $8 billion planned acquisition announced in September. Illumina said that if the Grail deal is not consummated prior to Dec. 20, it will make the cash payments "until the earlier of the consummation or termination" of the deal. Illumina expects the deal to close in the second half of 2021.

In the event the deal falls through, Illumina would receive shares of non-voting Grail preferred stock in respect of all continuation payments in excess of $315 million. In that event, Illumina would also be required to pay a $300 million termination fee and make an additional $300 million investment in Grail in exchange for non-voting preferred stock.

UnitedHealthcare this week again delayed new billing rules that will require labs to register with the insurer the tests they offer and include a unique test code for each test in order to be reimbursed. The implementation of the registry protocol has been delayed until April 1, 2021. UnitedHealthcare cited the coronavirus pandemic for the delay.

Along with the new deadline, the company said that test codes submitted on a claim must match a corresponding laboratory test registration provided to UnitedHealthcare by March 1, 2021. UnitedHealthcare Oxford plans will also be included in the test registration protocol.

The registry requirement has raised concerns within the lab industry about additional administrative burdens and the potential for an increase in claims denials.

In a recent regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Thermo Fisher Scientific said that it settled litigation with Unisone Strategic IP on Sept. 30 "by payment of a nominal amount." In 2013, Unisone had sued Thermo Fisher subsidiary Life Technologies in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, alleging that Life Tech's supply chain management system software, which operates with product supply centers installed at customer sites, infringed Unisone's intellectual property.

Thermo Fisher Scientific also said this week that its board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $.22 per share, which will be paid on Jan. 15, 2021 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 15, 2020. In addition, the company authorized the repurchase of $2.5 billion worth of shares of its common stock in the open market or in negotiated transactions, with no expiration date. This replaces the firm's existing repurchase authorization, of which $1 billion was remaining.

Calibre Scientific recently announced the acquisition of Hamburg, Germany-based Dianova, a distributor of antibodies, immunoassays, and products for molecular biology, and a manufacturer of primary antibodies for histopathology. Financial and other terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Calibre said it will integrate Dianova into its subsidiary Biozol Diagnostica to create a distribution network to service Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In October, Los Angeles-based Calibre also acquired Lorne Laboratories for an undisclosed amount.

Centogene said this week that it has opened a walk-in COVID-19 testing facility at Berlin Brandenburg Airport. This is the company's fourth coronavirus airport testing center, following those at the airports in Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf. The new center, which offers Centogene's SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, caters to arriving and departing travelers as well as the general public.

Oxford BioDynamics said this week that it has entered into a partnership with Boca Biolistics under which Oxford Bio will receive a diverse range of blood samples from COVID-19 patients. The samples will include clinical information on disease severity and will be used by the Oxford, UK-based firm to support the development of its EpiSwitch prognostic immune-response test. The samples will add to Oxford Bio’s existing database of more than 500 UK and US samples. Boca is prospectively procuring samples for Oxford Bio from the US, the Caribbean, and South America. Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Exagen said this week that it is collaborating with Brigham and Women's Hospital to study the emergence of autoimmune diseases after COVID-19. PCR-confirmed COVID-19 patients from Brigham and Women's who elect to participate will be categorized by COVID-19 severity as either mild (outpatient), moderate (inpatient, not ICU), or severe (ICU), as assessed by two validated questionnaires and tested using Exagen's Avise biomarkers to investigate the new onset of rheumatic disease symptoms and autoantibodies in the three months to one year following onset of COVID-19. Exagen's Avise testing products are based on the company's proprietary cell-bound complement activation products, or CB-CAPs, which assess the activation of the complement system, a biological pathway implicated in systemic lupus erythematosus.

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on 360Dx.