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What's in the Autoclave? A Blog about Science

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Mergers and Acquisitions [Jun. 12th, 2008|04:12 pm]
What's in the Autoclave? A Blog about Science
Today's New York Times business section reports on the just-announced purchase of Applied Biosystems by Invitrogen. These two companies are big names in the American scientific supplies and tools world. Applied Biosystems is probably best-known for making equipment including machines that perform "real time PCR," a sensitive and quantitative method of measuring gene expression that has become widely used in many subfields of biology over the last decade. Invitrogen is one of the largest suppliers of biomedical research supplies in a wide array of areas, particularly relating to genetics and in vitro cell culture. Their purchase in 2000 of rival Gibco (a major supplier of in vitro tissue culture reagents) ensured that pretty much every US cellular or molecular biology research lab is using at least some of their products.

Mergers are always a little bit worrysome; competition among vendors for our research dollars helps keep costs down across the board. But I'm not an economist, so I probably shouldn't speculate too much on the impact of this merger. Invitrogen, as far as I know, doesn't currently produce instrumentation for real-time PCR, although both companies sell the consumables required to use the machines. There are other providers of all of these products, including Stratagene, so there won't be an absolute monopoly.

A press release on the acquisition is found on the ABI website, here.

[User Picture]From: secrethappiness
2008-06-13 05:04 am (UTC)
I am slightly shocked over this merger. Yikes. Invitrogen is trying to take over the world apparently. The problem is that ABI is the preferred manufacturer. They are the ones who get it right every time. I've used Stratagene before and I just wasn't impressed by them. I'm sure the merger will be fine in terms of product but it's almost a monopoly.
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From: theautoclave
2008-06-13 02:29 pm (UTC)
Didn't ABI develop the technology in the first place? I learned qPCR on an ABI machine around '01 or thereabouts... I actually got a coauthorship on a paper because I was the only person in my lab free on the day that the ABI rep came to teach our department how to do the assays. :S Anyway, we use the Stratagene system here, and it's fine, but I liked the ABI machine better.

But yeah, Invitrogen is scary-big now, and you always have to worry about how quality control and customer support get affected when a company is trying to do too many different things at once. Economy of scale is all well and good, but at the end of the day we need our reagents to actually work as advertised.
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[User Picture]From: secrethappiness
2008-06-16 05:40 am (UTC)
Yes, ABI put out the first machine in 2001. (I was just reading a paper about it, actually.)

you always have to worry about how quality control and customer support get affected when a company is trying to do too many different things at once. Indeed. Especially when you're working with diagnostic stuff and antibodies and the like. Invitrogen now owns Gibco, Molecular Probes and ABI, and if something goes wrong, you don't have many other options.
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From: theautoclave
2008-06-16 02:01 pm (UTC)
...and also the dreaded "on backorder." Invitrogen had PBS on backorder a few weeks ago.

(We need endotoxin-free PBS for some applications -- yes, I know how to make it from scratch for general use; we aren't that spoiled.)
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