GE HealthCare’s MRI Contrast Play

GE HealthCare has expanded its MRI contrast portfolio with the European debut of Pixxoscan. The gadolinium-based contrast agent gives GE another macrocyclic gadolinium-based contrast agent to sell in Europe, in addition to its Clariscan GBCA.

MRI contrast developers have been working to address one of the most persistent problems in MRI: their reliance on gadolinium. Gadolinium works great for lighting up MR images, but it’s a toxic metal that has to be bonded with a chelate – a sort of molecular cage – in order to be used safely in humans. 

Pixxoscan is a macrocyclic GBCA that’s based on gadobutrol, a formulation already used in Bayer’s Gadovist GBCA and that’s now available generically. Macrocyclic GBCAs are considered more stable and less likely to release gadolinium than linear agents. 

Most linear GBCAs have been barred from the European market since 2017. The FDA never took a similar approach, but the US market has largely shifted from linear GBCAs to macrocyclic agents due to safety concerns. 

GE HealthCare highlighted that Pixxoscan is formulated at twice the concentration of gadolinium ions, which reportedly enables it to be used at half the injection volume of other GBCAs. The company also said that the agent’s cage-like macrocyclic chelate provides high kinetic stability. 

Pixxoscan will start shipping initially in Austria, and GE HealthCare expects to expand it across Europe. A spokesperson didn’t confirm plans for a US rollout.   

Pixxoscan’s launch comes as two of GE HealthCare’s competitors, Guerbet and Bracco, are rolling out their formulations of gadopiclenol, a high-relaxivity agent that can be used at half the dose of conventional GBCAs. The companies collaborated on the development of the agent, which Guerbet is selling as Elucirem and Bracco as Vueway. 

The Takeaway

GE HealthCare’s launch of Pixxoscan gives the company another macrocyclic agent to sell in Europe in addition to Clariscan. The question is how the agent will compete with gadopiclenol from Bracco and Guerbet, which are already touting its dose and relaxivity advantages.

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