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Roche Posts Double-Digit Increase in Full-Year Applied Science Revenues, Dip in MDx

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Roche today reported a 3 percent increase in full-year revenues for its diagnostics division, to 9.7 billion Swiss francs ($8.4 billion) from 9.4 billion Swiss francs ($8.1 billion) in 2007.

The diagnostics division includes several business areas, including molecular diagnostics, which posted a 2 percent dip in revenues, to 1.1 billion Swiss francs, and applied sciences, which recorded an 11 percent increase in sales, to 765 million Swiss francs.

In local currencies, revenues for the diagnostics division rose 10 percent, and growth in the molecular diagnostics and applied sciences businesses was 5 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Within the applied science group, Roche said that sales of its Genome Sequencer FLX system "nearly doubled, despite increased pressure from competitors." That business area also saw double-digit growth in sales of LightCycler 480 real-time PCR instruments and reagents, with particularly strong sales increases in North America and China.

In addition, microarray systems "made a significant contribution to full-year sales" in the applied science group, Roche said. "Sequential quarterly sales growth for these products has been steady and strong since Roche acquired NimbleGen in August 2007."

Within the molecular diagnostics group, revenues from virology testing products grew 4 percent, driven by demand for real-time PCR platforms and tests for HIV-1 and hepatitis C and hepatitis B virus. Sales of blood screening products rose 2 percent for the year.

Roche's total revenues, including sales for its diagnostics and pharmaceuticals divisions, dipped 1 percent to 45.6 billion Swiss francs from 46.1 billion Swiss francs. In local currencies, total revenues grew by 6 percent, Roche said.

Roche's pharmaceuticals division contributed to 79 percent of the company's total sales while the diagnostics division contributed 21 percent.

For 2009, Roche said that it expects full-year sales for both the pharmaceuticals and the diagnostics division to grow "ahead of the market, with increases in the mid-single-digit range in local currencies."

Within its diagnostics development pipeline, the molecular diagnostics group is developing an AmpliChip p53 test to identify cancers with a dysfunctional p53 tumor suppressor gene. "The ultimate aim is to achieve better treatment outcomes by identifying the patients most likely to respond to particular medicines," Roche said.

The company said that the molecular diagnostics business area "is also working closely with Roche Pharmaceuticals and its partners on companion tests for new therapeutics, including a real-time PCR test to screen for a common cancer-causing mutation of the BRAFkinase gene."

Priorities for the applied science group include "developing new and more powerful NimbleGen microarrays and enhancing the flexibility and efficiency of Genome Sequencer technology for the research market," Roche said. The company also plans updates of the LightCycler 480 instrument and the MagNa Pure sample-prep system.

In 2009, Roche's molecular diagnostics group plans to launch new tests for the cobas 4800 platform in Europe, including tests for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and human papillomavirus. The business unit is also planning to launch a test for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the US and Europe, and a TheraScreen EGFR 29 mutation test in Europe.

Planned product launches for the applied science group include a high-resolution microarray scanner and the MagNa Pure 96 high-throughput system.

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