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Roche Diagnostics Revenues Increase 3 Percent in 2019

This article has been updated with additional information from Roche's earnings call. 

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Roche on Thursday reported a 3 percent increase in sales of its diagnostics division in 2019, driven primarily by its immunodiagnostic solutions, which are part of its Centralized and Point of Care Solutions business.

Overall, Roche reported CHF 61.47 billion ($63.4 billion) in revenues for the year, up 9 percent at constant exchange rates from CHF 56.85 billion in 2018.

Roche Diagnostics had sales of CHF 12.95 billion in 2019, up 3 percent at a constant exchange rate from CHF 12.88 billion in 2018. For the fourth quarter, diagnostics sales decreased 2 percent to CHF 3.44 billion from CHF 3.50 billion in the same quarter in 2018. At a constant exchange rate the diagnostics business was up 1 percent in Q4.

The pharmaceuticals division had CHF 48.52 billion in 2019 revenues, up 11 percent from CHF 43.97 billion in 2018.

For full-year 2019, Molecular Diagnostics revenues grew 6 percent to CHF 2.11 billion from CHF 2.02 billion in 2018 and contributed 16 percent to 2019 diagnostics sales. Growth was driven mostly by blood screening, along with the sequencing business. Regional growth occurred mainly in China, while the Asia-Pacific region, overall, grew at 16 percent.

Centralized and Point of Care Solutions revenues increased 3 percent to CHF 7.82 billion in 2019 from CHF 7.77 billion in 2018, contributing 60 percent to overall diagnostics revenues and making it the largest contributor to diagnostics sales growth. Instrument launches and rollouts in China, the US, and South Korea had positive impacts, although they were partially offset by the decline in the coagulation monitoring business in North America, Roche said. The decline is largely due to new drugs becoming available that don’t require testing, Thomas Schinecker, CEO of Roche Diagnostics, said in a conference call to discuss the financial results.

In November, Roche launched its Cobas mobile solution, a tablet application for the cobas analyzers.

Earlier this month at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Roche announced an agreement with Illumina to develop and distribute on-market and pipeline therapeutics on Illumina's NextSeq 550Dx System, as well as on its future portfolio of Dx-branded sequencing systems. The companies will also collaborate to expand the claims for Illumina's comprehensive pan-cancer assay TruSight Oncology 500.

In a slide accompanying the company's earnings call, the company noted the partnership with Illumina will broaden patient access to genomic testing, expand the reach of Foundation Medicine, and strengthen Roche's sequencing strategy to accelerate clinical research, streamline workflows, and expand assay menus.

Schinecker also noted that there are new products in the pipeline, including an updated Cobas Prime on the preanalytics side and new instruments in mass spectrometry, molecular diagnostics, and immunochemistry.

Roche's goal, Schinecker said, is to have the broadest menu of assays available on single platforms because labs don't have space for multiple machines and "need to consolidate everything on as few machines as possible." The company is investing in new assays, with a variety of markers in the pipeline, including for earlier sepsis detection, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Roche also recently launched its Elecsys HIV Duo in China, a combination of antigen and antibody to close the window between when someone is infectious until the time the disease can be detected in blood.

Diabetes Care sales decreased 3 percent, and 1 percent at constant exchange rate, in 2019 to CHF 1.92 billion, from CHF 1.98 billion in 2018, contributing 15 percent to diagnostics sales. Blood glucose monitoring grew 1 percent, and insulin delivery systems decreased 1 percent. Sales growth was driven largely by the Accu-Check Guide product line but was offset by price pressures in Germany, the UK, and Italy.

In December, the company's Accu-Check SugarView app, a blood glucose monitor to help non-insulin-dependent patients with type 2 diabetes manage their condition between doctors' visits, received the CE mark and was officially classified as in vitro diagnostics software.

Tissue Diagnostics revenues decreased 1 percent to CHF 1.1 billion last year from 1.11 billion in 2018 and contributed 9 percent to diagnostics sales. At a constant exchange rate, that business segment was flat year over year. Sales of advanced staining reagents grew 5 percent, but shipment delays for the BenchMark and Discovery Ultra instruments offset that growth, Roche said. Schinecker said the company expects "much higher growth" in Tissue Diagnostics going into 2020 due to more system placements and sales.

R&D spending by the diagnostics division increased 6 percent to CHF 1.55 billion in 2019. General and administrative spending increased to CHF 1.43 billion in 2019.

Roche's 2019 net income increased to CHF 14.12 billion, or CHF 20.16 per share, compared to CHF 10.87 billion, or CHF 18.14 per share in 2018.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, Roche had CHF 6.08 billion in cash or cash equivalents.

For 2020, the company expects low- to mid-single-digit growth in sales and core EPS growth "broadly in line with sales," both at constant exchange rates.