By Kirell Lakhman
Despite cries of woe from many clinical labs — from Quest Diagnostics to Celera's Berkeley HeartLabs — that an ongoing decline in physician office visits has been eating away at testing volumes, at least one biotech that has a growing molecular-diagnostic play sees it otherwise, at least for esoteric assays.
"The [molecular diagnostics-testing] industry is blossoming right now, because it is well primed to meet the needs of the health care environment," according to Enzo Biochem President Barry Weiner. "The ability to be able to perform a test that will tell a physician whether an individual might respond to a certain chemotherapeutic approach or might not is of key value to all parties — patients, physicians, and payers.
"It makes for more effective medicine and its related costs, which is on everyone's minds," he said.
Weiner made his remarks in an interview with The Wall Street Transcript yesterday. His comments are noteworthy for clinical labs, not just commercial test makers, because one of Enzo's three businesses happens to operate one of the largest independent clinical labs in New York State, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that focus on routine and esoteric clinical assays.
Indeed, he made his remarks despite impending cuts in that part of the company's business.
According to Weiner, the tools and techniques that "are driving … the molecular diagnostics marketplace are now coming into their own. We believe it is a market that is growing much faster than the traditional clinical diagnostics market.
"The clinical diagnostics market [in general] is estimated to be greater than $22 billion in annual revenues, and these include a broad range of tests," he said. "But if you look at where the growth is emerging, it is in the molecular diagnostics segment of the market, which could be a multiple of that sum a few years from now" — a point I raised in early August.
Sure, he's hyping one of his businesses, which is second nature to the president of a company. But due skepticism aside — and coupled with the fact that Washington G-2 Reports has said the clinical-testing market in the US, including academic, hospital, and private reference labs, is worth $58 billion (not $22 billion, as Weiner claimed) and has typically grown 7 percent annually — there could be something to be said about the swelling convergence of growth projections for the MDx-testing community.
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