The agreement will broaden Mallinckrodt's product offering in nuclear medicine while providing UroCor with an instant presence in the radiation oncology market as well as supplementing its traditional base in specialised testing through total disease management. The product, ProstaSeed I-125 radioactive sources, has received 510(k) clearance to market from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and is awaiting final approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). UroCor expects product launch to occur in 1999 following regulatory clearance by the NRC when the Mallinckrodt agreement will also become effective.
ProstaSeed sources are small, radioactive pellets which are implanted in a patient's prostate under ultrasound guidance to destroy the tumour. This treatment, called brachytherapy, is increasingly selected by early stage prostate cancer patients because it does not dictate removal of the organ, which can result in side effects such as impotence and incontinence. Approximately 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and about 60 percent of these are potentially treatable by brachytherapy. Seeds for a single procedure typically cost about $4000, and the current U.S. market for all such seed implants is approximately $150 million annually.
William A. Hagstrom, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UroCor is extremely enthusiastic about the ProstaSeed sales and distribution agreement with Mallinckrodt. This strategic plan combines UroCor's ability to differentiate its radiation "seeds" for implant through the company's advanced knowledge of prostate cancer and its unique diagnostic and prognostic services with Mallinckrodt's access to the hospital market and its industry leadership in radiopharmaceuticals, as he claims.
The arrangement is another milestone in UroCor's drive to expand its therapeutic portfolio of products and services for urologic diseases, Hagstrom continues, and the company's target markets are principally urology and radiation oncology medical specialities. This builds on UroCor's expanding ability to sell pharmaceutical products for important urologic diseases. Under the agreement, UroCor will have a dedicated sales force to call on radiation oncologists and medical physicists. Mallinckrodt will also have direct sales and will include ProstaSeed in its hospital group purchasing agreements. There will be minimum annual purchase levels Mallinckrodt must meet, and sales revenues will be divided between the two firms according to an agreed-upon formula.
This is a very exciting opportunity for Mallinckrodt, as stated by C. Ray Holman, Mallinckrodt's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Partnering with UroCor, a firm widely recognised for its expertise in the management of urology diseases such as prostate cancer, enables Mallinckrodt to leverage its strength in the hospital markets and in radiopharmaceuticals. It also provides the opportunity to participate in the advancement of medical technology to provide better health care for patients and greater value for physicians and other medical professionals, as he believes.
This agreement helps UroCor better leverage its own distribution channel by allowing it to focus its marketing efforts on differentiating the product offering, providing unique service-based capabilities, and developing complementary products, according to Karl K. Nigg, UroCor Vice President and General Manager of its therapeutics unit. Bradley J. Fercho, President of Mallinckrodt's Imaging Group, stated that this agreement is another step in the growth initiative the company is pursuing in its Imaging business. There appears to be tremendous excitement about this opportunity to take this product to Mallinckrodt's customers, and Fercho is confident that the sales professionals will position ProstaSeed for early and strong marketing success.
UroCor markets a comprehensive range of integrated products and services to assist in detecting, diagnosing, treating, and managing prostate cancer, kidney stones, and other complex urologic disorders directly to urologists and managed care organisations. The company's primary focus is helping urologists improve patient care and outcomes while reducing total costs of managing these diseases. UroCor presently serves more than one third of the office-based urologists in the United States.
Mallinckrodt Inc., is a global manufacturer and marketer of speciality health care products. Based in St. Louis, the company has three health care product groups: Respiratory, Imaging and Pharmaceuticals. The company operates in more than 100 countries and had fiscal 1999 net sales of $2.6 billion. Mallinckrodt is a world leader in nuclear medicine and distributes its radiopharmaceutical product lines through Diagnostic Imaging Services, its system of nuclear pharmacies in the United States. More news on the company's imaging activities is available in the VMW October 1999 issue in the article MRI technology combined with contrast agent optimizes diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.