Medical Distributors Open E-Market

FRAMINGHAM (04/19/2000) - A group of five major U.S. medical products distributors announced yesterday that they have agreed to establish a new health care electronic marketplace.

The New Health Exchange will be an open market that will bring greater efficiency to the health care industry's supply chain, said Robert D. Walter, chairman and CEO of Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health Inc., one of the founding companies.

Other partners in the exchange include AmeriSource Health Corp. in Malvern, Pennsylvania; McKessonHBOC Inc. in San Francisco; and Owens & Minor Inc. in Richmond, Virginia.

The founding companies collectively process $80 billion worth of transactions each year, according to Walter.

CEOs of the founding companies said the marketplace will offer a standardized, commercially neutral exchange aimed at streamlining the purchasing process for pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and other health-care products.

The companies will invest more than $100 million combined in the exchange, according to Paul M. Montrone, chairman and CEO of Fisher Scientific International in Hampton, New Hampshire, another founding partner.

"We believe this will be a landmark achievement that will slash costs in the health care industry," Montrone said during a conference call yesterday.

The founders said they will complete the joint-venture agreement by the end of July and expect to have the exchange operational by year's end.

The new exchange is the latest effort in the health care industry. Last month, five major health care manufacturers joined forces to found an Internet exchange that's intended to link purchasers with suppliers.

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