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Lead-test maker Magellen Diagnostics acquired for $66m

Privately held Magellan Diagnostics Inc., a 60-person Billerica company that calls itself “the most trusted name in lead testing,” Friday said it has been acquired by Cincinnati-based life sciences company Meridian Bioscience Inc. for $66 million.

Owned by a consortium of private equity firms, Magellan raised its profile in January when it began shipping its portable analyzers on loan to doctors in Flint, Mich., to help them cope with the public health crisis stemming from lead-contaminated drinking water.

The deal, completed Thursday, will bring Magellan’s product line — notably its LeadCare II lead poison analyzers, which carry a list price of $2,400 each — into Meridian’s portfolio.


Meridian markets a range of diagnostic tests for gastrointestinal infections and other infectious diseases to hospitals and laboratories that process blood and tissue samples. Magellan sells its line of lead analyzers and testing supplies to physicians’ offices.

“They saw a really good strategic and cultural fit between the two companies,” Magellan chief executive Amy Winslow said in an interview. “Both companies focus on highly accurate tests for rapid diagnostics. They also saw a complementary commercial organization.”

John A. Kraeutler, chief executive of Meridian, said his company plans to expand Magellan and use its sales force to market Meridian’s products to doctors.

“We have products that are ideally suited for this,” Kraeutler said in an interview. “When we took a look at Magellan, we saw a perfect opportunity to acquire a company that was not only growing but would give our products access to clinicians’ offices.”

For the past seven years, Magellan has been owned by a consortium of investors led by Ampersand Capital Partners of Wellesley. Other investors have included Boston venture capital firms Abingworth, Tekla Capital Management, and Boston Community Venture Fund.

Magellan is profitable and rang up sales of $16 million last year. The company’s workforce has tripled to 60, most of whom are in Billerica.


Winslow said Magellan will be operated as a stand-alone business unit of Meridian and keep its brand name on its lead poisoning analyzers. Meridian plans to retain Magellan employees and continue its expansion, said Winslow, who will stay on as chief executive while also serving as a Meridian executive vice president.

Robert Weisman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.