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Novartis to Help Fund Development of Gen-Probe MDx Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – As part of an expanded agreement between the firms, drug maker Novartis has agreed to help fund development of Gen-Probe's new automated molecular testing platform, Panther, for the blood screening market.

The partners have collaborated since 1998 on nucleic acid tests and instruments for the blood screening market. Under the expanded pact announced today, the firms intend to continue collaborating until the year 2025, and they expect to collaborate on the development of pharmacogenomic tests.

In addition, terms of their previous agreement have been amended. Gen-Probe will continue to be primarily responsible for R&D and manufacturing and Novartis will continue to be responsible for sales and marketing. However, the firms will collaborate more closely on sales, marketing, and distribution strategies. While the partners will share R&D costs, they also will share manufacturing costs.

Gen-Probe also will receive a percentage of end-user revenues that escalate gradually from 2009 until 2015 and will remain constant thereafter.

Another addition to their collaboration is an agreement to evaluate Gen-Probe's technologies in developing companion diagnostics for current or future Novartis therapeutics. Further details regarding specific drugs or disease focus were not provided.

Finally, Gen-Probe said that it expects to report 2009 revenues in the range of $460 million to $490 million, while its earnings per share will be in the range of $1.80 to $2.05. The firm is scheduled to release its 2008 financial results on Feb. 17.

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