Company news

July 7, 2010

Roche Diagnostics, which runs its U.S. operations out of Indianapolis, has partnered with IBM to develop a DNA sequencer much faster and cheaper than current technology. Roche and IBM ultimately want to provide a test that performs whole genome sequencing for $100 to $1,000 per test. Such wide access could make genetic sequencing as standard as biopsies, for example, and then allow medical professionals to “personalize” medical treatment based on a person’s genes. As part of the agreement, Roche will fund continued development of the technology at IBM and provide additional resources and expertise through collaboration with Roche’s sequencing subsidiary, Maryland-based 454 Life Sciences. Roche will develop and market all products based on the technology.

Indianapolis-based insurer WellPoint Inc. said its California subsidiary will dial down rate hikes that drew national outrage earlier this year and helped spark a final push for health care reform, according to the Associated Press. WellPoint now plans to raise rates by 14 percent for California individual policyholders. It will cap rate hikes at 20 percent, even though the company said it would lose $100 million on the plans this year. In April WellPoint withdrew increases that averaged 25 percent—and topped out at 39 percent—after consumers and President Barack Obama expressed outrage. WellPoint defended the hikes by saying rising medical costs and healthy people dropping coverage during the recession were forcing it to raise rates. But an outside actuary also found math errors, which prompted last week’s reduction.

About $72 million in construction bids have been awarded so far for the new Wishard Hospital. The contracts total about 14 percent of the entire construction package for the $754 million project, said Matt Gutwein, president and CEO of Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, which owns the hospital. He said the new hospital is on schedule and slightly below budget. The 1.2-million-square-foot hospital will be built on 37 acres at the west end of the IUPUI campus. Bids that have been awarded include demolition work, as well as work on a parking garage, the hospital’s foundation and utilities. Wishard hopes to award all contracts by January.