Company news

April 21, 2010

Facing the tighter restrictions of health reform at home, WellPoint Inc. wants to follow just about every other U.S. company in seeking growth in China. WellPoint CEO Angela Braly traveled to China last week to seek out a joint venture partner to offer health insurance to the nation’s upwardly mobile population. "If everything moves on smoothly, we are targeting 2011 for offering health insurance services through the venture,” Braly told the China Daily newspaper. Indianapolis-based WellPoint already has a joint venture with three other American health insuers to provide medical management consulting to Chinese insurance companies. But with China going through its own version of health reform, private health insurance is poised to become a popular complement to government insurance programs, according to China Daily. China's health insurance premiums totaled $1.6 billion in the first two months of this year, according to the industry regulator, up 34 percent from the same period last year. Such growth is enticing to WellPoint, which has been losing customers and premiums at home.

Whew! Bioanalytical Systems Inc. gets to stay on the NASDAQ Capital Market after a recent surge kept its share price above $1 for three straight weeks. NASDAQ had threatened in March to delist the West Lafayette-based company if its stock price didn’t improve. The company’s shares closed at $1 apiece on March 31 and haven’t dipped below that level since. Bioanlytical provides contract research services and monitoring instruments to drug-development companies and medical research organizations.

After months of rumors, Roche Diagnostics finally acquired Israel-based Medingo Ltd., which has a semi-disposable insulin patch pump that Roche hopes to couple with its blood glucose meters. Roche, which is based in Switzerland but runs its North American business out of Indianapolis, paid $160 million for Medingo and promised various payments if the company’s product achieves key milestones in its development and sales. The product is set to launch in 2012. Roche holds the largest market share worldwide in devices for diabetes care, but it has been losing ground to competitors in the U.S. market.

Warsaw-based Biomet Inc. posted a $3.1 million loss in its quarter ended Feb. 28, a big improvement from its $479 million loss in the same quarter a year earlier. Last year’s results were dampened by a $449 million impairment charge that Biomet recorded on its dental business. But this year, the loss narrowed as sales surged 9 percent to $670 million in the quarter, driven by a 17-percent spike in sales of knee implants. Cash flow rose 9 percent to $251 million, up from $229 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Biomet’s financial results often are a bellwether for other orthopedic implant companies, which report their quarterly results later this month.

Carmel-based technology firm Gemms Inc. plans to invest $2.1 million to expand its headquarters and software development operations here, more than doubling its staff in the next five years, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Gemms, which develops electronic medical record systems for cardiology practices, has 40 employees now and plans to add 69 more by 2015.