Founder and Managing Director, Randox
After completing my degree I took up a position as a research fellow of Queen’s University, Belfast. I then founded Randox in 1983. During the early stages I decided that our main focus should be in vitro diagnostics. So I developed some prototype products and had them evaluated in local hospitals. This work was carried out in a converted “hen house” at the back of my parent’s house in Northern Ireland.
Bachelor’s Degree, Biochemistry, University of Strathclyde, Scotland PhD, National Institute for Medical Research—London.
“I am a keen horseman and polo player. I am also involved with a number of local charities including The Prince’s Trust.”
If you were explaining Randox Laboratories to someone who is not familiar with the organization, how would you characterize its primary areas of expertise? Randox is a global market leader within the in vitro diagnostics industry and the UK’s largest medical diagnostics company. We develop innovative diagnostic solutions for hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, food testing, forensic toxicology, veterinary labs and life sciences. With offices and distribution in more than 145 countries, Randox offers customers improved efficiency, quality, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility. Randox is committed to revolutionizing healthcare on a global scale. Founded in 1982 in Crumlin. Co. Antrim, we now employ more than 1300 staff members globally. Randox manufactures 3.2 billion diagnostic tests per year and approximately 4% of the total usage of tests in the world.
What are the major categories of solutions that Randox provides for its customers? Main areas include our Acusera quality controls and calibrators;Acusera 24.7 peer group reporting;RIQAS—our world leading international quality assessment scheme; one of the widest ranges of diagnostic reagents in the world; the RX series of clinical chemistry analyzers; and our revolutionary BioChip Array technology and analyzers. We are also an OEM manufacturer for some of the world’s largest diagnostic companies.
How have Randox’s solutions evolved in recent years to address changing customer needs? How is the company positioning itself to remain a leader in providing clinical diagnostics solutions in the future? At Randox, we place huge importance on our research and development activity. Each year, we reinvest around 20% of turnover back into R&D, and with 400 tests currently under development, we feel we are at the forefront of revolutionary technology in the industry. Our BioChip Array technology is a perfect example of this. We invested £200 million over 20 years to develop our groundbreaking multiplexing platform. We currently allow the testing of 25 different components on one sample; but our team is developing this to increase that number. We always strive to develop and manufacture the most innovative and most efficient products on the market.
We have also recognized the importance of business evolution in such a fast-moving sector and our reach now impacts beyond clinical labs. Our personalized testing business Randox Health Checks empowers individuals with their road-map to better health, analyzing hundreds of biomarkers covering all major functions in the body. Randox Food Diagnostics help protect consumer safety in all manner of food, from pesticides in Ukrainian honey to antibiotics in beef in Brazil. Randox Testing Services ensure people are safe at work, testing for drugs and alcohol in safety-critical industries such as aviation, construction and logistics. Randox Toxicology is an integral part of the global effort against drugs, supplying cutting-edge technology to police forces across the world, including the new battleground of legal highs.
Ultimately I think that it is our focus on providing an excellent customer service that is the reason for our loyal customer base. When I was starting Randox in 1982, in the height of Northern Ireland’s “troubles,” I was very conscious of the image we had in the world at that time. So we had to strive to give better technical service and delivery than our competitors. We went to extremes to ensure we provided a great service and delivered on time; we even sent high- value enzymes to Washington on a Concord and charted a yacht to deliver diagnostic kits to hospitals in England during a workers’ strike. This customer service ethos has continued to dominate Randox operations ever since.
Randox has earned a lot of attention for its solutions involving drugs-of-abuse testing. What are some important things readers need to know? The nature of drugs-of-abuse screening means you are often trying to detect multiple substances from a single sample. Therefore with the ability to identify up to 23 substances simultaneously Randox BioChip Array Technology is perfectly suited for forensic toxicology work. Social and cultural factors means that drugs issues vary from country to country, but with one of the widest test menus on the market, Randox can work with police and legal authorities everywhere from Bahrain to the Bahamas. We are particularly proud to be at the forefront of the newest global challenge, new psychoactive substances, or so-called “designer drugs.” In fact, when the synthetic cannabanoid “Spice” first came to prominence, our expertise and investment in development meant we were the first company to have a test commercially available, allowing authorities to identify and come to grips with the problem.
The Acusera 24.7 Live Online peer group reporting package has received a great deal of attention in industry circles. Can you explain its value to our readers? Acusera 24.7 Live Online is a web-based Quality Control (IQC) and peer group reporting package designed primarily to complement and support laboratories using the Randox Acusera range of internal quality controls. However, it can also be used to monitor the performance of any internal quality control.
It allows users to manage, interpret and compare QC data of potentially thousands of laboratories across the globe which are running the same test. In doing so it can significantly help labs improve analytical performance, enabling them to identify trends, system errors, or reagent issues as soon as they arise. If a laboratory is not using a peer group reporting package, it may not know there is a problem until the next cycle of proficiency testing, by which time many inaccurate patient results may have been reported.
The true power of Acusera 24.7 Live online is threefold: peer group data is updated every 24 hours, giving laboratories access to the most up-to-date information available. This is key to ensuring rapid and effective troubleshooting. Secondly, peer group statistics for Acusera 24.7 are generated from a data pool from more than 24,000 laboratory participants, the largest available in the market. A high level of participation ensures a large database of results and analytical methods, therefore increasing statistical validity.
As a web-based system, the strength of Acusera 24.7 also lies in an easy-to-use and intuitive interface, direct connectivity to the laboratory’s instrument or LIS, and the ability to produce fully interactive charts and comprehensive reports to meet individual laboratory requirements. Developed following extensive research to identify precisely what laboratories need from a data management package, Acusera 24.7 Live Online has been extremely well received by laboratories across the globe.
Randox has developed a versatile range of clinical chemistry analyzers collectively known as the RX series. For what applications are clinical labs using these products?
The RX series has been developed by Randox to meet the growing needs of clinical laboratory testing. Robust hardware combined with intuitive software ensures exceptionally low downtime with unrivalled precision and accuracy. The RX series provides a flexible solution to a variety of laboratory types including clinical chemistry, veterinary, research/education, forensic toxicology and food/wine testing.
The extensive RX series test menu guarantees flexibility and consolidation through high quality routine and specialized testing. These tests include routine chemistries, specific proteins, lipids, therapeutic drugs, drugs-of-abuse, antioxidants, and diabetes testing.
Last year you opened a facility in Donegal, Ireland. How will that help with company growth? Do you have any plans for expanding the company’s presence in the United States? Our state-of-the-art facility in Donegal is a research and development hub. We currently employ 50 staff members there, mostly in areas of science, engineering and manufacturing, so our outputs are continually improving since our opening.
We initially set up our West Virginia facility in early 2010 with a multimillion dollar investment and plan to grow our operations, with hopes to double the current workforce by 2015. Our West Virginia facility acts as our U.S. headquarters and is a very important asset for Randox operations not just in America but across the world. We have achieved excellent success with our facility since first opening and are pleased to report sales of almost $13 million for 2013—a sign of our continuing growth. We are committed to growing our customer support network in the States. Building on our growing success, I also want to expand our operation in West Virginia into a key manufacturing facility for our U.S. market.