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E-Health Site Delivers Chronic Disease Information

Discovery Partners Of La Jolla Buys Swiss-Based Firm

On Feb. 22 a new local E-health company called iMetrikus Inc. will make its debut on the Internet.

The Carlsbad-based firm specializes in providing people suffering from chronic diseases with customized information on drugs, dietary needs and other medical information from cyberland.

“It’s interactive and based on the health record of the patient,” said Darrell Atkin, a spokesman of the company.

This is how it works. Patients, in particular those suffering from HIV, diabetes and various forms of cancer, type in their medical history, including allergies and other personalized information. A search engine then goes out to harvest the best information on the Internet, Atkin said.

Company founders Dr. Peter A. Thompson, iMetrikus’ president and CEO; Joseph Condurso, vice president and COO; Jae Evans, chief technology officer; and Robert Duncan, CFO are talking to advertisers to sponsor their site and also companies, such as pharmacies, medical device makers, and drugmakers, to help fund the site, Atkin said.

Atkin said consumers’ free health portfolio will not be advertiser-driven, but be assembled from various health sources on the Internet.

However, iMetrikus plans to strike deals with linked pharmacies and other health-related companies where it would charge them a commission for every product sale made to consumers, Atkin said.

Atkin declined to provide names of potential partners. He said iMetrikus recently closed a third private round of financing and is “leveraging the public market.”

At its newly opened headquarters in Carlsbad, iMetrikus’ 26 employees are working on getting the Web site finalized.

Atkin said the firm plans to hire an additional 25 tekkies this year. Software engineers and product managers and Web developers are in high demand, he added.

A preview of iMetrikus’ Web site (myhealthchannel.com) started Jan. 24.

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Acquisitions: Discovery Partners International, which buys biotech firms that sell automated and accelerated research techniques to drug discovery and pharmaceutical firms, announced Dec. 18 it bought Swiss-based Discovery Technologies Ltd.

The La Jolla-based firm announced last summer it signed a letter of intent to buy DTL, which specializes in high-throughput screening services.

“With the acquisition of DTL, Discovery Partners International has established a major presence in Europe and entered the assay development and high-throughput screening services market,” said Riccardo Pigliucci, CEO at Discovery Partners.

“The integration of DTL screening services complement the existing combinatorial chemistry, chemical library and lead optimization services provided by IRORI and ChemRx and adds several hundred thousand chemical compounds for new lead discovery screening to our already existing libraries,” Pigliucci said.

Financial details were not disclosed, Pigliucci said.

He added Discovery Partners bought 40 percent of DTL in June 1999 and the remaining 60 percent Dec. 31.

In June, a company official said Discovery would buy one or two more biotechs that specialize in biology-based services or chem-informatics, firms that use computers to simulate molecules before year-end.

“We have been looking at several companies, but it fell through,” Pigliucci said. Still, the search continues.

Pigliucci said he hopes to file for an IPO by the end of 2000, depending on market conditions.

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