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Sequenom Eyes Sales Force Expansion, Reimbursement for Down Syndrome Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Sequenom President and CEO Harry Stylli said yesterday that the firm would work with a contract sales force organization and is targeting a sales force of 150 to 175 reps focused on the obstetrics/gynecology market in the US for its SEQureDx Down Syndrome test that it intends to launch in June.

During the firm's fourth-quarter conference call after the close of the market yesterday, Stylli also said the firm is discussing reimbursement rates for the test with insurers in advance of its launch.

Sequenom intends to launch both its RNA-based and DNA-based SEQureDx tests as laboratory developed tests through its CLIA lab. The firm recently released data for both tests and intends to continue developing them in parallel while it validates results at its CLIA lab.

Stylli said that the contract sales organization "is working in a classic manner, where they are recruiting the sales reps that we identify … there is a selection procedure, training procedure. We then carry the overhead, if you like, of that sales person once we've recruited them and once they've come through our training procedures.

"We expect to have a lot of flexibility in how we ramp our headcount. We have chosen this route, frankly, because the ramp could be quite significant, and we'd want to bring on a lot of people potentially … fairly quickly," said Stylli.

He added that Sequenom is "in the process of making a short list" of potential partners in Europe and is assessing proposals from some of them.

In addition to the sales force expansion, Stylli said that the firm is in discussion with insurance carriers regarding reimbursement for the SEQureDx test. "We currently have a number of contracts in place with a number of carriers including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan," he said.

He also noted that Sequenom has been discussing a CPT code for the test with the insurers and believes a reimbursement level of between $700 and $800 "may be acceptable for this test.

"Building out our payer network will be a process we pursue in parallel with our clinical program and expect that both efforts will reach a considerable level of maturity by the middle of 2010," said Stylli.

Yesterday, Sequenom reported that its fourth-quarter revenues had grown 9 percent year over year to $12.2 million. The firm also said that it expects revenues for the genetic analysis business to be flat for the first half of 2009, due to the general decline in the capital equipment market.

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