Press Release Details

Diagnostics Leaders Collaborate to Help Physicians Better Differentiate Allergy-Like Symptoms


TETERBORO, N.J., May 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Primary care physicians are learning how they can better manage patients with allergy-like symptoms by obtaining objective evidence to differentiate those who are allergic from those who are not, thanks to a nationwide educational collaboration between Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX) and Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. The collaboration's central message is that expanded use of blood testing for allergy at the primary care level is the key to improved identification, diagnosis, treatment or referral of patients with common illnesses whose symptoms may or may not be related to or made worse by allergy.

Pharmacia Diagnostics, the world leader in the research and development of IgE blood testing, developed the first blood test for allergy, known as RAST. It later introduced the technically superior, market-leading ImmunoCAP Specific IgE blood test. Quest Diagnostics and Pharmacia Diagnostics are now educating primary care physicians about the benefits of Specific IgE blood testing using ImmunoCAP. Quest Diagnostics is the nation's leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services.

"Quest Diagnostics is well-positioned to inform physicians about the role, value and use of diagnostic markers as they move into mainstream medical practice. That's what's happening now with allergy blood testing," said Joyce G. Schwartz, M.D., Vice President and Chief Laboratory Officer of Quest Diagnostics. "Together with Pharmacia Diagnostics, we want to help primary care physicians better understand how they can improve patient care through the appropriate use of allergy blood testing."

"One-half of all Americans experience allergy-like symptoms -- such as nasal congestion, runny nose or watery eyes -- that can be associated with upper respiratory disease (URD)," said Michael Land, President and General Manager of Pharmacia Diagnostics, U.S. Operations. "These symptoms are very difficult to differentiate based on history and physical examination alone, and the problem is that about half of these patients are not allergic. In addition, children with undetected food allergies are at high risk to develop inhalant allergies or even asthma later in life -- a phenomenon of disease progression that is commonly called 'the allergy march.' We want to focus primary care physicians' attention on the fact that they manage most of these patients, but do not typically obtain objective evidence regarding allergy symptoms to guide treatment or referral decisions."

"Allergy specialists recommend to all physicians that when allergy is suspected, objective evidence should be obtained to confirm the diagnosis, which is exactly what the allergist routinely does," said Leonard Fromer, M.D., associate clinical professor, department of family medicine, U.C.L.A., and past president of the California Academy of Family Practice. "Unfortunately," he added, "most primary care clinicians have not been trained to consider the importance of Specific IgE testing to determine whether allergy is the cause of URD symptoms, nor do they typically think of skin rash or ear infections, for example, as possible symptoms of food allergies that may lead to the allergy march. It's a positive step that Quest Diagnostics and Pharmacia Diagnostics are combining their resources to increase physicians' awareness of these important issues in patient care."

About Pharmacia Diagnostics

Pharmacia Diagnostics AB is headquartered in Uppsala, Sweden, and is the world leader in in vitro IgE allergy diagnostic research and product development. The U.S. headquarters for Pharmacia Diagnostics is in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

About Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated is the nation's leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, providing insights that enable healthcare professionals to make decisions that improve health. The company offers the broadest access to diagnostic testing services through its national network of laboratories and patient service centers, and provides interpretive consultation through its extensive medical and scientific staff. Quest Diagnostics is the leading provider of esoteric testing, including gene-based medical testing, and provides advanced information technology solutions to improve patient care. Additional company information is available at:

The statements in this press release which are not historical facts or information may be forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and outcomes to be materially different. Certain of these risks and uncertainties may include, but are not limited to, competitive environment, changes in government regulations, changing relationships with customers, payers, suppliers and strategic partners and other factors described in the Quest Diagnostics Incorporated 2003 Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

SOURCE Quest Diagnostics Incorporated -0- 05/18/2004 /CONTACT: Investors, Laure Park, +1-201-393-5030, or Media, Gary Samuels, +1-201-393-5700, both of Quest Diagnostics Incorporated/ /Web site: / (DGX) CO: Quest Diagnostics; Pharmacia Diagnostics; Pfizer ST: New Jersey