NEW YORK (360Dx) – Siemens Healthineers' launched its Atellica Solution IVD analyzer system two years ago with the aim of taking market share from industry heavyweights like Roche Diagnostics and Abbott Laboratories.
According to the company, that effort has shown early signs of success with, for instance, CEO Bernd Montag noting during the firm's Q1 2019 earnings call that more than 35 percent of the Atellica Solution systems the company had sold at that point were "competitive wins," meaning that the purchasers were actively considering other firms' systems.
Discussing the system's rollout, Carlos Morales, manager of operations and sales PR/VI/Bahamas, laboratory diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers, echoed this sentiment, saying that sales results "are demonstrating greater success than we originally anticipated in attracting laboratories that weren't previously using Siemens Healthineers instruments."
He said that as of Q2 2019, the company had shipped more than 1,700 Atellica Solution analyzers. The system has both a CE mark and US Food and Drug Administration clearance and is available for sale in more than 50 countries.
Last month the firm announced it had placed two Atellica Solution systems in Puerto Rico's Hospital Auxilio Mutuo, making it the first the hospital in Puerto Rico and the first transplant center in the world to adopt the new instrumentation.
According to Myriam Centeno, associate administrator at Auxilio Mutuo, the hospital evaluated systems from several other companies, including Roche Diagnostics' Cobas 8000 analyzer, before settling on the Atellica Solution system.
Centeno said the lab was primarily looking to upgrade its instrumentation in order to allow for "the consolidation of a wide variety of different tests [and]… the quality control measurements of those tests."
She said that the tests the hospital plans to run on the Atellica Solution were previously being run on a trio of instruments—a Roche Cobas 6000, a Siemens Centaur XP, and a Siemens Dimension EXL. Centeno added that her lab runs 100 of the 188 tests currently available on the instrument and plans "to continue to add tests until we can reach the maximum capacity of the Atellica, probably prior to October 2019."
Discussing the decision to go with the Atellica Solution platform, Centeno noted that the instrument's throughput was a key consideration. According to Morales, the company has targeted the system to mid- to high-volume labs. He added that, depending on the test mix, it can run as many as 440 tests per hour, which, he claimed, "is the industry's highest productivity per square meter."
Centeno said that it is still too early to assess what impact moving to the new system might have at Auxilio Mutuo.
"Since we are still experimenting and understanding [the system], it is too soon to [make] any comparisons between the workflow [used] before and after Atellica and the impact of the workflow on financial outcomes," she said.
For Siemens Healthineers, launch of the Atellica Solution was part of an effort within the company to streamline its IVD analyzer portfolio, said Peter Origenes, vice president at healthcare consulting firm Health Advances.
"The history of Siemens is that over time they had several different acquisitions of big instrument players, and its hard for a big manufacturer to have multiple different platforms that run different technologies," he said. "And so, over time, they needed to rationalize and commit to a smaller number of technologies because it was hard to get economies of scale and interoperability between the multiple systems."
The Atellica Solution is also designed to capitalize on the trend towards integrated modular instrumentation.
"Siemens has always been competitive [with other leading IVD firms]," Origenes said, "but I would say that based on the last generations of instruments, I think they were looking to improve the flexibility and ability of their platforms to scale for customers."
Morales said that the system's flexibility had proved a selling point with customers, noting that it allows for "more than 300 customizable configurations including L and U shapes." A "lab can transform its entire workflow to create and maximize operational efficiencies to address whatever their key performance indicators might be," he said.
"With a modular machine, say you want more chemistry throughput," Origenes said. "You just add another chemistry module [to the analyzer] and it doubles up your throughput. So you aren't connecting two separate machines. With modularity you're essentially making one machine into a bigger machine."
Origenes added that the immunoassay technology used in the Atellica Solution system also makes it a "competitively fast" system in terms of turnaround time. He said this was notable in that the immunoassay side of the analyzer business "is where the money is" compared to the typically less profitable chemistry side.
Morales also highlighted the improved turnaround time provided by the platform's sample transport technology, which uses a variable speed, bi-directional magnetic transport system that he said cut sample transport time by as much as tenfold.
He added that the system can accommodate STAT samples without it impacting turnaround time, noting that studies by customers who have purchased the system suggest it could "help eliminate the need for separate instruments and testing lines for STAT samples."
At the 2018 American Association for Clinical Chemistry annual meeting, clinicians from Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid presented a study looking at how the Atellica Solution handled STAT testing while simultaneously running routine tests. The study authors replicated what they said was a typical peak period for the hospital lab, running 1,561 tests on 650 routine samples over three hours while also running STAT tests for high-sensitivity troponin, total hCG, and B-type natriuretic peptide during that same time period.
According to the researchers, they found that the system allowed for "quick and predictable" turnaround time on STAT tests "while simultaneously performing routine testing with minimal impact on throughput."
While the Atellica Solution has posted solid sales since its launch, Siemens Healthineers CEO Bernhard Montag cautioned during the company's Q2 2019 earnings call that its stated target of 2,200 to 2,500 systems shipped in fiscal 2019 "remains very challenging."
Montag noted that sales have been somewhat slower than expected among "mid-market" customers, whom he said have been more inclined than larger labs to stick with their legacy systems. Geographically, he said Europe and Asia-Pacific have outperformed expectations while the US market "is a little bit behind."
The system is competing against other relatively new releases like Abbott's Alinity ci analyzers, which came to market in 2017, and Roche's e 801 immunoassay module and its Cobas pro analyzer, which the company launched, respectively, in 2016 at the end of 2018.
During Abbott's Q1 2019 earnings call, CEO Miles White said regarding the performance of the overall Alinity line of instruments (which includes hematology and molecular diagnostics systems in addition to the ci analyzer) that in Europe Abbott was winning 95 percent of its existing accounts and almost two-thirds of accounts where it is seeking to displace a competitor's system.
He said he expected the system to make a significant impact in the US market beginning in 2020.
On Roche's Q4 2018 earnings call in January, CEO Michael Heuer, noted that the company placed 1,000 Cobas e 801 instruments in 2018 and had sold 2,000 total. He also addressed the Cobas pro, noting that it would target medium to large labs and was intended to help the company protect its installed base from competitors while also winning new customers.
Roche didn't break out sales for either instrument during its Q1 2019 earnings call, but it posted a 2 percent decline in its centralized and point-of-care diagnostics business.