New Diagnostic Tools Emerge in War Against Superbugs

New Diagnostic Tools Emerge in War Against Superbugs

Aim of rapid-diagnosis technologies is to reduce unnecessary prescription of antibiotics.

A new front is emerging in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs—one that doesn’t involve the development of new drugs.

Companies are racing to develop diagnostic technologies that can be used by hospitals and clinics to pinpoint the cause of common infections quickly. That should cut down on the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics, a major driver of drug-resistance in bacteria.

Traditional diagnostic testing via specialist laboratories can take several days to deliver results, so doctors who want to prescribe an immediate remedy often use a patient’s symptoms to guess what is causing an illness. More than a quarter of the time, this leads to antibiotics being prescribed unnecessarily, according to a 2013 study in the U.S. published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. In respiratory infections, two thirds of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, according to the same study.

Now, a new market is opening up for diagnostics that can be used outside of specialist labs, and it is growing at a steady clip. The U.S. market for so-called point-of-care diagnostics for infectious disease stands at $533 million and is growing 7% a year, according to Divyaa Ravishankar, an analyst at consultancy Frost & Sullivan.


There is pent-up demand for tests that can return results quickly, said Nicholas Jansen, an analyst at Raymond James. “There’s always been a desire by hospitals and government agencies to minimize the use of antibiotics,” he said. “But the problem was that there wasn’t a technology available…that would make it cost-effective.”

Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, said the tool that doctors want most is one that can test for several potential culprits simultaneously.

BioFire Diagnostics Inc., a Salt Lake City-based division of France’s bioMérieux SA, makes one such device. Its test looks for several pathogens at once, depending on the type of infection, and produces results in about an hour. Sales of these devices, which cost $35,000 apiece, more than doubled in the past year, according to company filings.

New Diagnostic Tools Emerge in War Against Superbugs

The 10 biggest health-care companies in the Fortune 500

Here are the 10 biggest health-care companies from this year’s Fortune 500 list, as measured by revenue.

  1. CVS Health
  2. McKesson
  3. UnitedHealth Group
  4. AmerisourceBergen
  5. Express Scripts Holdings
  6. Cardinal Health
  7. Walgreens Boots Alliance
  8. Johnson & Johnson
  9. Anthem
  10. Aetna

The 10 biggest health-care companies in the Fortune 500


The idea of telemedicine—health care provided using telecommunications equipment—has a lengthy history.



Megatrends in Global Health Care

Powerful trends are at work — all around the world — forcing changes in how health care will be conceived and delivered in the decades ahead.

The editors of HBR have compiled a list of 12 megatrends that will dramatically change how we must think about the issue and some of the largely unrecognized consequences.

Megatrend 1: Innovation and demand soar in emerging economies

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 2: Personalized medicine and technological advances

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 3: Aging populations overwhelm the system

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 4: Rising costs

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 5: Global pandemics

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 6: Environmental challenges

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 7: Evidence-based medicine

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 8: Non-MDs providing care

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 9: Payers’ influence over treatment decisions

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 10: The growing role of philanthropy

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 11: Prevention is the next big business opportunity

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrend 12: Medical tourism

Megatrends in Global Health Care

Megatrends in Global Health Care.

Healthcare’s Top Venture Capital Firms


Healthcare’s Top Venture Capital Firms

The Health Care Forum

The health care industry is at a turning point around the world. Populations are aging, costs are rising alongside spending and governments are legislating new models. Health care companies are no longer simply defined as a doctor’s office, hospital or insurer, and the sector itself is becoming more globalized.

As technologies offer the promise of a solution, the pace of change in the health care industry has hit fast forward, and payers, providers and patients remain unclear about the impact of these changes for the future. How should health care professionals prepare for the future?

The Health Care Forum | The Economist.


The $1 Paper Microscope That Could Change the World

When diagnosing people in the developing world, health workers often go into the field lugging bulky, fragile, and expensive microscopes.

While traveling in Thailand, a scientist dreamt up a lightweight, low-cost alternative: a pocket-sized paper microscope made from a single sheet of folded paper, a pair of lenses, and an LED. Approximate cost: $1.

The $1 Paper Microscope That Could Change the World – Businessweek.

FDA Outlines Policy for Overseeing Nanotechnology

The FDA suggests businesses to consult with them before launching nanotechnology products, but won’t make a judgment call in general on the technology.

Federal regulators want to hear from companies using tiny, engineered micro-particles in their products, part of an effort to stay abreast of the growing field of nanotechnology.

FDA Outlines Policy for Overseeing Nanotechnology |