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Genomic Health to Launch Colon Cancer Test This Quarter

SAN FRANCISCO (GenomeWeb News) – Genomic Health will launch its colon cancer test this quarter and will hire additional sales people in connection with the introduction, President and CEO Kim Popovits said Monday at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, held here this week.

The pharmacogenomics firm currently has 80 sales people and expects to add another 10 this quarter. Popovits said that its entire sales force would sell both the Oncotype Dx for breast cancer and the new assay for colon cancer.

Like the breast cancer assay, the colon cancer test will provide a recurrence score, and the firm expects to follow the lead of the breast cancer assay and add additional information that will answer more questions over time. The new test will provide a potential market of 300,000 colon cancer cases.

Popovits said that Genomic Health is working with payors, patient advocacy groups, and opinion leaders in advance of the colon cancer test launch.

In April, GWDN sister publication PGx Reporter reported that the multi-gene expression platform Genomic Health was testing for use in the colon cancer test met its primary endpoint in determining the likelihood of post-operative disease recurrence in patients with stage II colon cancer. However, the study did not meet its secondary endpoint when using the test to predict which patients were likely to benefit with post-operative 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin treatment.

With regards to the Oncotype Dx test for breast cancer, Popovits noted that it has reached around 55 percent of its potential market in the US, or around 50,000 patients. The company hopes to reach more patients through the added sales staff and other efforts, such as its educational programs.

Launched in 2004, Oncotype DX is designed to help assess breast cancer recurrence and chemotherapy benefit in tamoxifen-treated patients with early-stage, node-negative, estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. A couple of papers recently published in The Lancet and Lancet Oncology suggest that the Oncotype DX assay may help guide node positive, ER+ breast cancer treatment.

In addition to the breast and colon cancer tests, Genomic Health is targeting a ductal carcinoma in situ test launch in 2011 and a renal cancer test launch in 2013. As reported in 2008 by PGx Reporter, Genomic Health and Pfizer had planned to develop a genomic test based on Oncotype DX technology to gauge the risk of post-operative kidney cancer recurrence.

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