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Roche Diagnostics' Sales Rise 4 Percent as Applied Science Unit Continues to Struggle

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Roche today reported that sales for its diagnostics division grew 4 percent year over year at constant exchange rates for the first nine months of 2012, with molecular diagnostics showing single-digit growth and the applied science unit continuing to struggle.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Roche reported total diagnostics sales of CHF 7.50 billion ($8.09 billion) compared to CHF 7.10 billion for the first nine months of 2011. In Swiss francs its diagnostics sales were up 6 percent year over year.

Roche's molecular diagnostics sales climbed 4 percent at constant exchange rates and 7 percent in Swiss francs to CHF 859 million, while its tissue diagnostics products were CHF 458 million, up 15 percent at CER and 20 percent in local currency. The firm said that its molecular diagnostics sales were driven by the blood screening business, which was up 8 percent year over year. It also cited positive uptake for its cobas BRAF and cobas HPV tests, which were launched last year.

The firm's Applied Science business, which holds its sequencing and microarray products, however, continued to slump. That business reported sales of CHF 535 million, down 5 percent at CER and down 2 percent in Swiss francs.

"Sales continued to reflect low public research funding and increasing competition in sequencing, with additional impacts from the restructuring initiated in the second quarter," Roche said in a statement. "The unit has now largely completed restructuring, including consolidation of product segments to focus on those with the greatest market potential."

That restructuring includes reorganizing the NimbleGen and 454 Life Sciences businesses into a new business unit called Sequencing Solutions. In addition, Roche laid off the majority of NimbleGen's employees and said that it would discontinue production of most arrays by the end of the year and focus exclusively on the sequence capture market.

The firm also intends to phase out its sequence capture chips but continue to use the NimbleGen brand with its in-solution target enrichment products, a company official recently told GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication BioArray News.

Roche had purchased NimbleGen for around $273 million in 2007.

Overall, the Roche Group had sales of CHF 33.69 billion through the first nine months of 2012, up 4 percent at CER and 7 percent in local currency from CHF 31.49 billion. Its pharmaceutical division grew at the same rate to CHF 26.20 billion from CHF 24.40 billion.

Roche confirmed its outlook for 2012, saying the Group is expected to post low- to mid-single digit sales growth for the full year. Sales for the diagnostics division are anticipated to outpace the market, it said.

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