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Cepheid Plans Salesforce Shakeup

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cepheid CEO John Bishop today said that the firm will “pare down” its force of sales representatives next year and focus staff on managing existing accounts with an eye toward driving menu expansion on its GeneXpert system.
Bishop told attendees of the Piper Jaffray Health Care Conference held here that the firm intends to convert some of those sales reps to account managers and hire an unspecified number of new account managers beginning next month. He did not say whether there would be an overall reduction or increase in staff at the company as a result of these changes.
Bishop said that Cepheid is “going to account managers because we have a very viable menu now” for the GeneXpert system. The firm has been developing new tests for the instrument with the goal of being a broad-based molecular diagnostics player, rather than being focused primarily on MRSA surveillance, he said, adding that Cepheid wants to be the platform of choice for molecular diagnostics testing in centralized labs.
However, he also said that the firm stands to benefit from what he and many others in the industry believe is a growing trend of decentralization of diagnostic testing. Like other molecular diagnostics players, Cepheid’s platform enables rapid identification of targets, such as infectious diseases, which the firm hopes will be adopted by hospital labs and in other near-patient settings.
Much of Cepheid’s revenues have previously come from sales of its GeneXpert system and tests for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It has been developing tests for other hospital-acquired infections and expects to file with the US Food and Drug Administration in the first quarter of 2009 for clearance of its tests for vancomycin-resistant Enterococci and Clostridium difficile. It also is developing a test for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, which it aims to launch next year.
Cepheid’s revenues have been trending toward more test and disposables sales versus instrument sales. For the third quarter, the firm reported total revenues of $44.9 million, of which $28.4 million — or 37 percent — came from test and disposable sales. Bishop said that the firm’s goal is to reach 80 percent of sales derived from tests rather than instruments.

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