Diabetes: GE challenges 'four titans'

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - GE's diagnostic imaging and other healthcare products may dominate hospitals and clinics, but with its latest product, the company hits home.

GE has signed a licensing agreement with Bionime to provide a GE-branded line of diabetes products. The first such product to launch: the GE100 blood glucose monitoring system, which is available now through home medical equipment providers and will be available some time this year through major retailers.

"This is GE's first consumer diabetes brand, which is an exciting milestone for the company," said Rebecca Hayne, global public relations manager for GE Healthcare. "As healthcare delivery is increasingly extended from the clinical setting to the home environment, GE is committed to helping expand access to innovative home health consumer products."

GE estimates that the over-the-counter blood glucose monitoring is a $7 billion market--and growing. There are 2 million new diabetes cases diagnosed in adults 20 and older each year, Hayne says, citing data from the American Diabetes Association.

To date, the blood glucose monitoring market has been dominated by "four titans," according to Peter Weedfald, president of Gen One Ventures, a sales and marketing consulting firm that is working with GE and Bionime: Johnson & Johnson, Abbot, Roche and Bayer. He believes GE will be a force to reckon with for two reasons. First: GE, a $12.6 billion company that operates in 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide, is a trusted household name for everything from appliances to light bulbs.

"It's a huge, world-class brand," Weedfald said.

Second: GE believes in Bionime's technology, which includes a strip design that eliminates the need for users to touch the sample after testing; and a coding design that eliminates the need for users to code each strip lot but doesn't sacrifice accuracy, Hayne said.

"GE is a great brand and we have a great technology, so it's a great partnership," said Steve Millilo, a product manager at Bionime.

GE selected Bionime, which is based in Taiwan and has a sales and marketing office in San Diego, after "extensive due diligence," Hayne said. In addition to its technology, GE was attracted to Bionime's business model: It's a vertically integrated company, meaning it has better control of design, manufacturing, quality--every step of the process.

"GE and Bionime are poised to go head-to-head with the other companies in the market," Millolo said.