MP TotalCare acquires Express-Med

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Sunday, June 30, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. -  MP TotalCare acquired Express-Med in a private deal that closed June 17, combining one of the nation's largest independent providers of respiratory medications with one of the largest providers of diabetes, incontinence and ostomy supplies.

Express-Med also provides respiratory medication through its acquisition late last year of Mobile, Ala.-based Total Parenteral Services (See HME News, Jan. 15. 2002).

The two companies will continue to operate independently in Tampa and New Albany, Ohio, according to Howard R. Deutsch, chairman and now CEO of MP TotalCare. Kevin F. Pawlowski, who had been CEO, will continue as president of MP and, additionally, as COO.

"The combined company is one of the largest privately held businesses serving the COPD and diabetes markets," said Deutsch.

The only larger independent provider of respiratory medicine and diabetes supplies, say industry sources, is Liberty Medical. Deutsch says there is a fundamental difference between the two companies.

While Liberty is renowned for building business through direct-to-consumer advertising on such programs as Paul Harvey News and Comment, MP has built its business through a variety of means, including a sizable portion via referrals from HME providers.

In addition to direct-to-consumer efforts, MP provides outsourcing pharmacy services - so-called condo pharmacies - to such companies as American HomePatient.

For Deutsch, moving from the MP board to a more active role as CEO is a sort of homecoming. In 1987, he was part of the original management group at Lincare. He stayed with the nation's dominant respiratory provider until 1997, serving as executive vice president and general counsel.

In late 1999, Deutsch joined MP when Charterhouse Group International bought the respiratory pharmacy. At the time, one of the equity investor's managing partners said MP was generating about $25 million annually in revenues.

Although repercussions of the deal for independent HME providers are not immediately apparent, what is immediately apparent is what did not happen: Lincare didn't buy MP TotalCare, noted one respiratory medications industry source, remembering Lincare's acquisition of another respiratory pharmacy, Med4Home, earlier this year.

Since the acquisition, some independent HME providers have expressed frustration over the numbers of patients Lincare has managed to convert through access sanctioned by its Med4Home business.

"The good news in all this for dealers," said the source, "is that there continues to be a large respectable pharmacy out there that lets dealers compete." HME

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