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UTAK Laboratories releasing 16 new quality control test materials

Posted: July 29, 2014 4:00 p.m.
Updated: July 29, 2014 4:00 p.m.
UTAK Laboratories production assistant Matt Berru in the production room at UTAK in Valencia. Photo by Dan Watson. UTAK Laboratories production assistant Matt Berru in the production room at UTAK in Valencia. Photo by Dan Watson.
UTAK Laboratories production assistant Matt Berru in the production room at UTAK in Valencia. Photo by Dan Watson.

UTAK Laboratories has released more quality control materials for labs around the country to run tests on amphetamines, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines, a psychoactive drug.

Testing for prescription drugs demands accuracy so patients can receive the best possible care and the Valencia lab, a leading diagnostics manufacturer, filling an unmet customer needs when it comes to testing for these medications, said a spokesperson with the firm.

The company is also getting set to release a second set of test materials for steroids, hormones and anti-arrhythmia drugs,according to Tim Nelson, Global Marketing Director for UTAK.

Because there are multiple test panels in each group of test materials, the company will be issuing 16 individual products by the end of July, he said.

Prescription drug abuse is epidemic with over 2.2 million people, ages 12 or older, misusing medications in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Labs need comparative test materials to know whether or not their equipment is testing accurately, said CEO Jim Plutchak, a member of the firm’s founding family.

Plutchak’s father first got the idea of building a company around the concept of manufacturing quality test products for labs when he worked for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

Finding the test materials took time away from his job to run the actual tests for some pretty high-profile cases, too. Having worked on Tate-LaBianca Manson murders and the death of Swedish actress Inger Stevens, Plutchak’s dad often had to manufacturer his own comparative quality control materials to ensure the accuracy of the tests that were run.

Doing so gave him the idea to form a company that would produce commercial products that labs could buy so doctors and lab employees wouldn’t have to create or find their own materials. He and his wife founded the firm in 1973 and moved it to Santa Clarita n 1979.

Likely customers for the new products will be commercial test labs, specialty labs, hospitals or forensics, Nelson said.

UTAK decided to produce the newest quality control materials based on the number of requests trending upward at the lab. The firm’s specialty is filling gaps by producing materials for niche products.

In some cases, manufacturers recommend labs use a third party quality control lab for testing materials, in addition to materials or lab the manufacturer may provide, to meet International Organization for Standardization requirements, Nelson said. In other cases, UTAK receives requests for customized, small batch products that larger labs won’t produce.

“Our purpose is to meet unmet needs and close the gap between customer need and (the customer) having viable commercial third party control they can use,” Nelson said.

UTAK looks at the trends based on requests coming to its lab and knows at which point the cost of the investment to make and sell the product, including the research and development work, will be offset.

With the amphetamines, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines test materials, the company thinks 8 to 10 percent growth for these products alone is a reasonable target, Nelson said.


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