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Roche's MDx Sales Rise 8 Percent in Q1

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

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Roche today reported an 8 percent increase in first quarter sales for its molecular diagnostics business year over year, driven by strong growth for its HPV testing products.

Overall, the Swiss pharmaceutical and diagnostics company reported revenues of CHF 11.83 billion ($12.28 billion) for the first quarter, up 3 percent  from CHF 11.50 for the first quarter of 2014. At constant exchange rates, its revenues increased 5 percent year over year.

Its diagnostics division had total sales of CHF 2.51 billion, a 2 percent increase from CHF 2.46 billion for the prior year first quarter. At constant exchange rates, sales for the diagnostics division were up 6 percent.

Sales for its molecular diagnostics business were CHF 401 million for the quarter compared to CHF 370 million for Q1 2014. Roche said that the rise in MDx sales was driven by a 39 percent increase in HPV testing sales and a 10 percent increase in virology test sales, as well as contributions from its sequencing business. In particular, the non-invasive prenatal tests it obtained through the acquisition of Ariosa Diagnostics were "well received in the market" and drove sales growth.

During the quarter it launched two new CE-marked tests for use on the cobas 6800/8800 systems: the cobas DPX test, a real-time PCR duplex test for parvovirus B19 and hepatitis A virus in human plasma, and the cobas HBV quantitative nucleic acid test. Roche launched the cobas 6800/8800 last year and has placed more than 100 systems in the market so far.

Later this year, the company plans to launch a number of additional molecular diagnostics tests, including HIV-1, HCV, and HBV viral load tests for the cobas 4800, a new version of an EGFR detection test in plasma for cobas, a Liat Influenza A/B and RSV test for point-of-care detection for cobas, and a multiplex blood screening test for the cobas 6800/8800. In addition, it plans to launch the cobas 6800/8800 system in the US.

Among its other diagnostics businesses, Roche said that sales for its professional diagnostics unit were up 2 percent to CHF 1.43 billion from CHF 1.39 billion; sales for its diabetes care diagnostics were down 6 percent at CHF 507 million from CHF 538 million; and tissue diagnostics returned sales growth of 14 percent at CHF 178 million compared to CHF 156 million for Q1 2014.

Roche has bolstered its position in the molecular diagnostics and omics tools markets through a string of recent acquisitions and investments including its majority stake in Foundation Medicine, the purchase of ctDNA cancer screening tech firm CAPP Medical, the acquisition of Signature Diagnostics, and its late 2014 buy of Ariosa Diagnostics.

Roche's pharmaceuticals division reported sales of CHF 9.32 billion, up 3 percent  from sales of CHF 9.04 billion in Q1 2014.

Roche said that it expects FY 2015 sales growth in the low- to mid-single digits at constant exchange rates.