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REGIONALREPORT Triangle

Caring for costs

Spikes in employers’ health-insurance costs are often caused by a small number of workers with chronic — and expensive — conditions. Durham-based BioSignia Inc. says it can tame those increases through its Web-based software that generates employee health assessments and the recent acquisition of a company that creates wellness programs. “It’s the old 80/20 rule — 20% of your employees are going to cost you 80% of your health-care dollars,” CEO John Williams says. “We help the employer identify the top 20%.”

Williams calls the company’s patented technology “synthesis analysis,” but BioSignia branded its software Know Your Number. The technology was developed at Cornell University in New York, but the company incorporated in Durham in 1996 because of the Triangle’s entrepreneurial environment. Since the software’s launch in 2004, hundreds of employers have used it. It was even featured on NBC’s weight-loss show The Biggest Loser.

It begins with a blood-sample analysis. Results are compared with multiple peer-reviewed and accepted clinical studies to predict risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Employers get an overview of workforce health — but not individual results — allowing them to tailor wellness programs to their staff. The company can now offer those programs through Fayetteville-based Doctors Direct Healthcare Inc., which it acquired in July. Doctors Direct, BioSignia’s first customer, provides services such as health coaching and on-site classes. The companies will do business separately.

Know Your Number is licensed through health-care companies such as Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories and Avon, Ohio-based Bravo Wellness LLC. Williams will not disclose financial details about privately held BioSignia but says the 40- employee company has raised $55 million from angel investors.

 

Briefs

RALEIGHN.C. State University signed a $10 million agreement with Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical that will, in part, create a research laboratory for joint ventures in fields such as chemistry and materials sciences. The 2,000-square-foot lab will be at the school’s Centennial Campus and is expected to open in early 2013.

CARY — Digital advertising and marketing company Dex One will merge with Dallas-based SuperMedia, another Yellow Pages publisher. Dex shareholders will own about 60% of the company once the deal closes, and CEO Alfred Mockett will step down. The combined company will be called Dex Media, but a decision about the site of headquarters had not been made by early September.

SANFORD — After 16 years as director of Lee County Economic Development, Bob Heuts left to take a similar position at Beaufort County’s Economic Development Commission. The Lee board created a committee to determine how to proceed while it searches for his replacement.

DURHAM Carolina Independent Publications sold the Independent Weekly and its website for an undisclosed amount to Portland, Ore., residents Richard Meeker and Mark Zusman, who own an alternative weekly newspaper there and in Santa Fe, N.M. Meeker is the brother of former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

MORRISVILLE Oxygen Biotherapeutics will move its research-and-development arm from Costa Mesa, Calif., to the Triangle, though the company hadn’t named a site by early September. The drug developer has a treatment for traumatic brain injuries in clinical trial and sells Dermacyte, a line of anti-aging cosmetics.

RALEIGH Crescent Financial Bancshares will merge with Burlington-based VantageSouth Bank, adding five branches to its 15 and about $248 million to its $826 million of assets. Raleigh-based Piedmont Community Bank Holdings owns a majority of both banks.

CHAPEL HILL UNC Chapel Hill hired Chicago-based consulting firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause to help it review academic improprieties in the African and Afro-American studies department. Former Gov. Jim Martin will lead the investigation, and results will be presented to the Board of Governors, which is also studying reports of no-show classes for athletes and other irregularities.

RALEIGH — The Food and Drug Administration delayed its ruling on Salix Pharmaceutical’s drug crofelemer, which the company believes will treat diarrhea HIV/AIDS patients experience with anti-retroviral therapy. Salix now expects a ruling by the end of the first quarter in 2013.

DURHAM — Drug developer SCYNEXIS signed an exclusive licensing deal with United Kingdom-based Dechra Pharmaceuticals for the development and commercialization of its drug treating canine dry eye. SCYNEXIS received an undisclosed upfront payment and could receive royalties for sales and milestone payments.