By Kirell Lakhman
Celera today reported that first-quarter revenue for its Berkeley HeartLab plunged 39 percent on lower sample volume that was in part due to former BHL sales reps who allegedly committed trade secret violations and conspiracy.
Revenue at the CLIA lab during the three months ended March 27 fell to $17.5 million from $28.5 million year over year on a 26-percent drop in sample volume, Celera said in a statement.
Celera said volumes "were adversely impacted by the loss of business" from accounts serviced by the former employees, whom BHL sued in February when they resurfaced as sales reps for rival Health Diagnostics Laboratory. The case was settled last week.
Sample volumes were down also due to weather and undisclosed "changes to BHL's business" implemented in the second half of 2009, Celera said.
Meantime, reimbursement contributed to the revenue plunge. "While the decline in reimbursement rates has moderated in recent quarters, these were lower in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the prior year, and contributed to the first quarter revenue decline at BHL," Celera said.
Celera added that BHL "expect[s] to launch" in the third quarter a genetic testing service designed to help assess an individual's response to the anticoagulant Plavix — a smart play considering FDA's decision last month to include a black box warning with the drug claiming that certain mutations can place some patients at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Celera said it "expect[s] to achieve our goal of doubling revenues from [its genetic cardiovascular] services to more than $20 million this year."
These services include the KIF6 assay, designed to predict risk of coronary heart disease and event reduction during statin therapy; a lab-developed test it launched March 31 that detects a variant 9p21 gene that increases risk for early myocardial infarction in certain individuals; and a grab-bag of other genetic and non-genetic assays.