European wholesaler puts stamp on U.S. mail-order supplies biz

Sunday, March 2, 2008

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - A large European drug wholesaler gained a significant platform in the United States late last month when it acquired mail-order giant Byram Healthcare for $132 million.

Byram's day-to-day operations will remain unchanged under its new parent company, Netherlands-based OPG Group, said Byram CEO Rick Smith.

"Both companies have a high-priority on patient care and quality of life, so the two company cultures are focused and identical in that respect," he said. "This brings additional support and longevity for Byram. We now have the resources to continue to invest in improving our service."

The 40-year-old Byram is one of the largest suppliers of disposable medical supplies nationally, focused on the chronic care population with diabetes, wound care, ostomy, urological, incontinence and enteral nutrition products. Byram's revenues last year hit $135 million, according to an OPG release.

The deal gives OPG, a pharmaceutical retailer and wholesale distributor with operations in Poland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Hungary and Switzerland, a footprint to expand into this country.

"The acquisition of Byram will immediately provide us with a national platform in the world's most innovative and largest market in medical supplies," stated Marc van Gelder, CEO of OPG, in a release.

Byram's direct business model and product categories are in sync with OPG's, and the combined companies now have greater worldwide buying power, said Smith.

"Mail order is efficient for payers and convenient for patients," he said. "The evidence continues to show the value of (reimbursing for these services)."

In recent years, Byram has focused on strengthening itself through improved services and rolling out new programs like its Latino Diabetes Program, launched last summer (See HME News, January 2008).

That strategy won't change any time soon, but the company will consider getting back into the buying game in the next six to 12 months, said Smith.

"We will be taking a look at acquisitions and being opportunistic," he said. "Our goal is always to be one of the leading companies in the industry."

The companies expect to close the deal later this month.