Coram prepares to resurface

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

DENVER – If finances continue to improve as they have in recent months, home infusion giant Coram Healthcare may be ready to emerge from bankruptcy in the spring of 2003, company officials say.

The beleaguered national provider issued a published statement recently to reassure customers of its commitment to home infusion therapy. The company stated that it had “strategically aligned” itself during its three-year bankruptcy ordeal and that it would accept referrals other companies have stopped taking.

The last point - a veiled reference to Accredo Health’s forfeiture of traditional, or acute care therapies - signifies that Coram is primed to reclaim its former status as a major player in the infusion market.

In fact, Coram reports it has already picked up market share from Memphis, Tenn.-based Accredo, which purchased Gentiva Health Services’ infusion business last March. At the time of the acquisition, Accredo indicated that it would discontinue acute care therapies in order to concentrate on specialty therapies, such as growth hormone administration.

Buoyed by the newly obtained business, Coram announced that it achieved several milestones in November:

- Fifteen consecutive months of growing sales;

- A record one-month provision of antibiotics, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and intravenous immunoglobulants (IVIG);

- November sales that exceeded pre-bankruptcy levels.

If internal operations stay on course and a Chapter 11 trustee is able to push the process through, Coram management is optimistic that it will finally be able to climb out of the hole in a matter of months. And as it ascends, Coram leaves behind some critical mistakes - namely, an ill-fated five-year managed care contract with Aetna that led to its bankruptcy in August 2000.

Those missteps have since led to some important lessons, said Kurt Davis, v.p. of investor relations.

“Probably the most valuable lessons are to understand your cost structure and negotiate carefully,” he said. HME