Bayer Diagnostics expands relationship with Matsushita Electric creating Viterion TeleHealthcare

Tarrytown 27 January 2003The Diagnostics Division of Bayer HealthCare LLC, a member of the Bayer Group, and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Osaka, Japan, which is best known by its Panasonic brand, have expanded their relationship with the signing of a joint venture agreement and establishing "Viterion TeleHealthcare LLC", a Bayer-Panasonic company, to market products and services for the rapidly growing telehealth market.

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Following an acute episode requiring hospitalisation, the use of telehealth technology enables health care professionals to monitor the patient's daily vital signs and specific health condition at home, which can result in fewer in-home nursing visits and can help prevent an acute reoccurrence.

"This is an exciting opportunity to expand our relationship with Matsushita Electric which began with blood glucose monitoring through our Self Testing Segment", commented Wolfgang Hartwig, Ph.D., President Bayer Diagnostics. "Telehealth technology shows great promise in facilitating managed care and integrated delivery networks to implement disease management solutions in a remote setting resulting in faster recovery time at home and reducing home health care expenses for the patient."

Bayer and Matsushita entered into a basic understanding agreement for a long-term, strategic business relationship to jointly develop, manufacture and market diagnostics products on May 17, 2001.

"This joint venture compliments the competencies of our respective companies", stated Yoshinori Nishida, President, Healthcare Business Company, a Division of Matsushita's Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. in Yokohama, Japan. "The combination of Bayer's knowledge of the health care customer and marketplace with Panasonic's technological expertise enables both companies to develop products that meet the health care needs of people with diabetes and other chronically ill patients."

Telehealth technology provides a mechanism for collecting and storing specific disease management data such as blood pressure, blood glucose, body weight, blood oxygen and temperature from a remote location. The technology also provides a means for the patient to communicate with their health care professional by video. The data is accessed in a clinical setting where it is interpreted by the health care provider, aiding in stabilising the patient sooner upon discharge from the hospital and reducing the number of in-home interventions.

"Viterion TeleHealthcare LLC is uniquely positioned to help improve the care of the elderly and chronically ill", stated Pramod Gaur, Ph.D., Vice President and General Manager TeleHealthcare Business, Bayer Diagnostics and President and CEO, Viterion TeleHealthcare LLC. "As the population continues to age, we are seeing a greater number of people experiencing chronic illnesses requiring hospitalisation and ongoing care."

"The need for home care services is expected to escalate, forcing home health care agencies to look for cost-effective ways to care for these patients. Bayer's customer relationships with both providers and patients and their strong position in the self test and near patient testing marketplace will help Viterion to be successful in bringing the telehealth technology to the chronically ill patients needing it the most."

Viterion TeleHealthcare LLC will have a management board that will consist of members from both Bayer and Matsushita. Viterion TeleHealthcare will announce plans for the commercialisation of its telehealthcare products in the United States within the next 60 days.

With approximately 7000 employees worldwide and 2001 sales of $1,8 billion, Bayer Diagnostics is one of the largest diagnostic businesses in the world. The organisation supports customers in 100 countries through an extensive portfolio of central, self-testing, nucleic acid and near patient care diagnostics systems and services for use in the assessment and management of health, including the areas of cardiovascular and kidney disease, oncology, virology, women's health and diabetes.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. develops and manufactures innovative electronics for the home, the workplace, and in between. Recording sales of $51,7 billion in the most recent fiscal year, the company devoted over $4,2 billion to R&D expenditures, making it one of Japan's largest investors in research and development.

Matsushita Electric has been at the forefront of development of remote health-monitoring devices in Japan where a rapidly aging population requires new and more efficient health care solutions. The company's principal United States subsidiary, Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, which is best known by its Panasonic brand name, operates a network of sales, service and R&D operations from its headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey.


Leslie Versweyveld

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