Interview with Dr. Peter Fitzgerald 

Managing Director, Randox Laboratories 

Dr Fitzgerald founded Randox in 1982 in a converted ‘Hen House’ at the back of his parent’s house in Crumlin, Co. Antrim.  Since then, the company has grown to over 3000 staff worldwide including 650 R&D scientists and engineers, with customers in over 145 countries. Randox develops, manufacture and market a wide range of clinical and veterinary diagnostic reagents and systems for chemistry, molecular, immunoassay, toxicology, food diagnostics and near patient testing. Randox continuously reinvest up to 25% of turnover into new discoveries and research supplying over 100,000 laboratories globally and is the fifth largest manufacturer of clinical chemistry reagents in the world and renowned globally for quality control material boasting the world’s largest external quality assessment scheme – RIQAS.  

Dr Fitzgerald was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011 for services to business in Northern Ireland. He has gained many other accolades in his career to date; named a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) and Innovation Founder of the Year 2013 from the Northern Ireland Science Park, to name a few.

Tell us about your focus areas and presence in the healthcare industry of West Africa. 

Randox is passionate about improving healthcare worldwide, especially in West Africa, through the use of innovative diagnostic technologies. We understand that more accurate, sensitive and reliable processes will lead to earlier diagnosis, producing improved health outcomes at a reduced cost. We know that the laboratory is key to improving healthcare systems in the future, and our products are designed for that purpose. Our clinical product offering includes diagnostic reagents, quality control and PT systems alongside a range of clinical chemistry, immunoassay and PCR analysers. We also have considerable expertise and capability in toxicology and food diagnostics to support key activity in those sectors. 

We also pride ourselves as a highly agile organisation that reacts swiftly to rapidly changing circumstances. This was evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic when the UK Government identified Randox as a key testing partner. Randox increased PCR testing capacity from 300 to 120,000 tests per day, delivering almost 25 million PCR tests to the Government and private sectors, identifying over one million positive cases. To do so, Randox built and equipped 80,000 sq. ft. of PCR laboratories and recruited and trained over 1,000 additional staff within a very short time during an intense period of national and international lockdowns. 

The expertise gained during COVID-19 is now focused on the wider healthcare requirements within the diagnostics sector. 

Based on your observation and expertise, share your thoughts on healthcare in West Africa and highlight some of the recent developments. What role does your organisation play in this context?

Our solutions in the sector of laboratory quality management are extremely popular throughout West Africa, especially our RIQAS EQA/PT programmes and internal quality control materials. We also have the recently released new version of our 24•7 QC software, which enables laboratories to review and interpret their QC results in real-time, as well as compare themselves to other labs around the world using the same equipment. 

Also, conveniently timed just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Randox expanded our EQA and QC portfolio to include coverage of PCR techniques for infectious diseases via the QCMD and Qnostics brands. QCMD has over 100 programmes for EQA, and Qnostics covers a wide range of QC, linearity and validation kit material to assist labs with validating and monitoring their PCR assays. We have found that these products have been especially useful in the post-pandemic era, as labs are now seeking to utilise additional PCR equipment they brought during COVID-19 by expanding their PCR test menu beyond respiratory diseases (e.g., to cover areas such as tuberculosis, STDs, gastrointestinal etc.).” 

Please identify some areas of opportunity, training, and education in the healthcare industry aligned with your business/medical activities.

Randox understands the importance of innovation and has adopted continuous improvement processes to ensure our products and processes achieve and maintain maximum efficiency and effectiveness. Each year we return up to 25 per cent of our turnover into R&D, and around one-quarter of our staff are research scientists and engineers. On that basis, we are committed to engagement across a wide range of markets and support an active programme of collaboration. Through these activities, we aim to identify and address, in a timely manner, the ever-changing demands of the healthcare sector. 

This effort has provided Randox with considerable depth. For example, when key PCR materials were in global short supply during the pandemic, Randox was able to commit to self-manufacture, meeting all the technical and regulatory requirements in record time. 

Our commitments are well-targeted and have borne fruit. We have evidenced continuous improvement in our quality control materials and software, in our PT capabilities, in our range of reagents and across a range of clinical chemistry and immunoassay reagents. We have also developed fully automated PCR systems for both the point-of-care and larger throughput hospital laboratory market. 

Please highlight some of your partnerships, achievements, and business goals for the next 12 months.

A key focus within Randox is our commitment to R&D, ensuring that we develop and produce market-leading products. Over the last few years, this focus has intensified, and we are launching more new products to market than ever before. Over the next 12-18 months, we expect to see this accelerate even further as we continue to launch products that customers are requesting. 

At Randox, we have always put a lot of emphasis on building long-term customer relationships. We always view ourselves as a partner to our customers rather than simply a supplier. As part of this relationship, we provide extensive training opportunities for our customers and distribution partners. Throughout 2023, we are hosting more local, regional and international training events than ever before. These events are a great opportunity to provide training and a fantastic, face-to-face platform for us to discuss market-related trends, demand for new diagnostic products and other general feedback from our valued customer base. 

What are you looking forward to the most at Medic West Africa 2023, and what can attendees expect to see? 

As always, Medic West Africa provides us with an essential opportunity to meet with current and potential end users and distributors across the region (and beyond). It also gives us a forum to meet with B2B clients who are also present as other exhibitors or delegates. Increasing awareness of our brand and portfolio across Africa is always our core aim. 

Along with a wide range of new quality control products, Randox will use this year’s Medic West Africa to showcase the latest development in the Randox Acusera 24•7 IQC platform.  

With Acusera 24•7, QC data review is faster and simpler than ever before. Our programme aims to save the laboratory precious time and money by instantly flagging any QC failures, ultimately ensuring accurate test system performance. Designed to complement and be used primarily with our Acusera range of true third-party controls, Acusera 24•7 has two primary functions:  

1) management and interpretation of IQC data and  

2) rapid and effective troubleshooting of QC failures via access to instantly updated worldwide peer group statistics. 

Acusera 24•7 has been modernised as Randox announced the automatic calculation of Measurement of Uncertainty, Total Error and Sigma Metrics as brand-new features to our software. Our software is highly flexible, with custom configurations of performance limits, multi-rules and target values designed to meet and exceed every laboratory’s needs. Being able to identify trends, and system errors, minimise false rejections and bridge the gap between IQC and EQA, there is no reason to look elsewhere for your analytical performance of QC. 

Anything else you would like to add? 

For more than 40 years, Randox has been supplying high-quality, cost-effective products throughout West Africa. We are excited about the prospect of providing an even wider range of market-leading products in the region over the coming months and years. 

Medic West Africa provides a fantastic forum for us to continue building close relationships with our customers and distribution partners, ensuring that we remain focused on our overall mission of improving healthcare worldwide.