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BD, Justifying GeneOhm Price, Points to Potential Market Size

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 12 (GenomeWeb News) - When Becton Dickinson announced earlier this week that it had acquired GeneOhm Sciences for $230 million plus up to $25 million in additional incentives, many attendees of the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference were surprised that BD was willing to pay that much for a little-known firm with 2005 revenues of only $5 million.


In a breakout session following the firm's presentation today at the conference, held here this week, BD Biosciences President Vince Forlenza cited the market potential of GeneOhm's tests and the firm's strong intellectual property, which BD would have had to license if it were to develop competing tests. Forlenza also noted that GeneOhm had poured some $80 million into R&D for its initial tests.


He also said BD paid fair value for GeneOhm, noting a market size of $500 million to $600 million for GeneOhm's tests. BD was involved in a competitive bidding process against other suitors, Forlenza said, though it wasn't an auction.  


Privately held GeneOhm develops molecular diagnostics designed to detect bacteria known to cause healthcare-associated infections. Specifically, GeneOhm markets FDA-cleared IDI-MRSA and IDI-Strep B diagnostic tests - and according to Forlenza the MRSA test is the only one of its kind cleared by the FDA. MRSA, also known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is responsible for HAIs, and Group B Strep poses a risk to pregnant women and their children during the latter stages of pregnancy.


GeneOhm is also developing a sepsis test, which presents a large market opportunity, according to Forlenza. He did note, however, that diagnostics giant and rival Roche is planning to launch its own sepsis molecular diagnostic product in Europe later this year.


BD has spent the past year tightening its focus in the research space on its cell-analysis and molecular-diagnostics business. Forlenza said the firm would continue to look for growth opportunities in those areas, as well as in ADME-Tox.


Outside of those fields, he said the firm has no plans to get more involved in the molecular biology tools space, following the sale of its Clontech division to Takara Bio in July 2005.

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