The big lab groups are now negotiating with suppliers at a Pan-European level. Jean-Paul Rigaudeau, chief executive at Unilabs (2009 sales up 8% at €400m) says the change has come in the last six months and should lead to substantial savings. “It means we can standardise on equipment at a European level enabling us to cut costs and ultimately improve quality.”
The former president of Kraft Europe with 25 years experience in food, says that healthcare is a long way behind the times. “20 years ago there were geographical differences in prices in the food industry in Europe but not any more. Instead there is a lot of transparency on pricing. It is hard to see why there should be in healthcare.”
In exchange for Pan-European deals at lower prices, Rigadeau says the big groups are signing co-marketing agreements to introduce new tests into several markets simultaneously and to gain wider coverage.
Around 20% or €80m of Unilabs sales is from imaging. Are suppliers such as GE or Siemens showing any sign of taking some of the risk on new equipment? Rigaudeau says no. “We seen no initiatives here, although imaging remains a very capital intensive business.”