Beckman Coulter isn’t the kind of company that captures headlines with provocative products. After all, biomedical testing isn’t exactly a sexy subject.
But the company, with 1,300 employees in West Kendall and 10,000 worldwide, has been involved in key developments for decades and is considered a pioneer in the biomedical community in South Florida..
“It’s one of the anchors for the life sciences industry here,” said Jaap Donath, vice president of research for The Beacon Council, a private-public partnership that promotes economic development in Miami-Dade. “They’re one of the biggest employers for the life sciences, especially medical devices. They’re a major, major player in their niche.”
More than 275,000 Beckman Coulter systems operate in both diagnostics and life sciences laboratories on six continents, said Mary Luthy, Beckman Coulter’s spokesman .
But the firm, which has its headquarters in Brea Calif. and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Danaher, has had its challenges.
Months after receiving an award from the Beacon Council in January 2007 for its “significant contributions to the local economy in the areas of job creation, business expansion, corporate citizenship and leadership” in the bioscience industry, Beckman Coulter disclosed plans to lay off 102 of its 1,659 workers in Kendall and close its Hialeah plant.
And there was more change for the company.
Danaher Corporation, another technology giant, acquired the entire Beckman Coulter operation in June 2011, sealing the deal with a $6.8 billion offer, representing $83.50 price per share.
At the time, Danaher reported that Beckman Coulter had annual revenues of approximately $3.7 billion. Beckman Coulter became part of Danaher’s Life Sciences & Diagnostics segment, joining Danaher’s Leica, AB Sciex, Radiometer and Molecular Devices businesses.
Also last summer, Beckman received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saying the company marketed a test for heart problems without proper clearance. The test, called AccuTnI, measures a protein called troponin that is a marker for heart problems. The FDA letter said the company had made “significant modifications” to the product without getting the required regulatory clearance.
“We have submitted new 501(k) applications for troponin to FDA and those applications are in review,” said Luthy, noting that the test is from the firm’s Minneapolis branch.
Beckman Coulter develops a range of diagnostic testing systems and supplies, from simple blood tests to complicated diagnostic tools, that are used by hospitals, reference labs and physician office labs. In addition, the firm makes products in Miami-Dade that are used by life science research scientists, Luthy said.
Products manufactured locally include hematology and Flow Cytometry instruments and supplies. Hematology products, such as the UniCel DxH 800, perform routine tests such as CBC (complete blood count) and WBC (white blood cell count) to evaluate blood disorders such as anemia, leukemia and lymphoma.
“We hold a number 1 or 2 position in this market,” Luthy said. Flow Cytometry instruments, such as the Gallios Flow Cytometer, characterize cell populations of interest to researchers — and Beckman Coulter holds a number two position in this segment, she added.