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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

Merger Strengthens Gamma’s Influence

Northridge-based Gamma Medica has taken a step to be at the forefront of a technological revolution in the medical imaging industry with the purchase of a company in Norway. The company will merge with Ideas ASA of Oslo, Norway, which makes the microchips that power Gamma Medica’s imaging technology. The new company will be named Gamma Medica Ideas, Inc. and will continue to be headquartered in Northridge for the time being, company officials said. Gamma Medica has been a client of Ideas for years. The Norwegian company provides the radiation detection electronics that power Gamma Medica’s medical imaging equipment. Combined, the companies will have access to the technology they need and a connection to the technology’s customers, said Dr. Bradley Patt, Gamma Medica CEO. “Some 50 years ago the first nuclear medicine system was invented by a guy named (Berkeley scientist Tom) Budinger, in fact it’s the only place were vacuum tubes are still used,” said Patt. “(Ideas) provides the technology that will quite literally move medical imaging tremendously for the first time in 50 years.” Not only will Gamma Medica have direct access to the technology that powers its imaging technology, it will also be adopting Ideas’ clients, some of the largest medical imaging companies in the world. “The new GMI will have two clear goals: first, we plan to increase our business in Gamma Medica’s core markets,” said Thomas Langaard, general manager of Ideas who will become chief operating officer of GMI. “Second, we will continue our ongoing efforts in partnership with some of the world’s largest companies as we seek to become the leading supplier of modular detectors for the next generation of products used in medical imaging and security and safety imaging.” Nuclear imaging allows scientists to use small amounts of radioactive material to study the structure and function of a patient’s body without having to resort to an invasive surgical technique. Using Ideas technology, Gamma Medica has been able to design medical imaging devices with much greater resolution than previous generations of equipment, making it very useful for pharmaceutical companies that want to see the effect of a specific drug on an animal or a patient. Early knowledge about a drug’s function can save hundreds of millions of dollars in drug development costs, said Joyce Ward, senior editor of ADVANCE for imaging and radiation therapy professionals. “It’s so expensive to produce drugs, and the companies are beginning at this point to say ‘listen, you can put all of your effort into a drug, only to get into phase 2 and find out it doesn’t go the way you wanted it to,” said Ward. “The importance of imaging is that it’s non-invasive, you can do it often, you can follow up and find out if the drug is where it should be and if it’s doing what you wanted it to.” The cost of bringing a drug to market has gone from $231 million in 1991 to $802 million in 2004, according to researchers at the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development in Boston. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already accepts MRI data for clinical studies for some drugs, said Ward, and it may not be long before it accepts imaging studies in evaluating other drugs. Patt said that the two companies will likely complete their merger by the end of the summer. Gamma Medica Ideas will employ about 60 people, and Patt expects the company to generate revenues between $15 and $25 million over the next 12 to 18 months. Since forming in 1997, Patt said, Gamma Medica has been able to achieve a growth rate of about 50 percent annually, a trend he sees continuing. “Together, we can tackle things that neither of us would have tackled alone,” Patt said. “We can help accelerate getting the technology into very large acceptance, moving faster to the end game of putting the technology into the marketplace.”

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