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Invitae Begins Offering Consumer-Initiated Testing Via Early Access Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Invitae announced at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference being held this week in San Francisco that all of its tests that have traditionally been physician ordered, will also be available for consumer-initiated ordering.

The strategy is aimed at lifting barriers that patients may face in accessing genetic testing due to cost, outdated guidelines, or restrictive insurance coverage policies. The genetic testing information offered by the company is important to people at all stages in their lives, said Invitae CEO Sean George, but he noted that the pace of scientific advancements in the genomics space has outstripped the ability of the healthcare system to use this information.

He highlighted the story of a young man with chest pains who died before he was diagnosed. The man's mother had an inkling that there might be a familial or genetic cause to her son's ailments and asked about genetic testing, but doctors didn't do the testing. Finally, the medical examiner agreed to order the test, Invitae did the analysis, and uncovered a rare genetic cause, said George, but this wasn't much of a surprise to the experts at the company because this happens more often than people might think.

"In 2019, we'll focus on removing the barrier to access that information and providing support to that individual family every step of the way," George said. "The broad set of genetic testing capabilities [that Invitae provides] … is now being made available online in a patient-initiated testing format." 

Currently, Invitae's website notes that it will "soon offer a new way for patients to initiate a test for themselves, giving them access to genetic counselors and physicians who can place the order, and making it easier than ever before to get the information they need from any of Invitae's affordable, comprehensive genetic tests." In addition to allowing patients to order testing, Invitae sells its panel tests for $250 when patients without insurance coverage have to pay out of pocket. 

This consumer-facing strategy that allows individuals to initiate testing and provides low self-pay test pricing (assuming insurance won't pay) is already being employed by companies like Color, Veritas Genetics, and by companies providing health-related apps on the Helix online genomic marketplace. At the conference, George said Invitae's initiative is in the early-access phase and will be commercially launched in the second quarter.

Ahead of George's presentation, Invitae announced that it is expecting revenues of more than $144 million in 2018, more than double the revenue it generated in 2017, and projected testing volume that doubled year over year to more than 302,000 samples compared to around 150,000 in 2017. The company also said that in the fourth quarter it continued to push down the cost of goods sold to less than $250 per sample compared to $260 in the third quarter. 

In the five years since Invitae's launch, it has tested 500,000 patients, and George projected that by the end of 2019 the company hopes to have served more than 1 million patients.

In the next 18 to 24 months, the company plans to launch more tests to its portfolio of inherited cancer screening products, tests that provide information about the molecular features of cancers, and non-invasive tests for monitoring cancer progression and recurrence.

Invitae will also introduce a variety of offerings in the reproductive health setting, enabled by its acquisition of Good Start Genetics and CombiMatrix in 2017. George highlighted that the company will launch a genome- or exome-based neonatal exam aimed at identifying the between 1 percent to 3 percent of babies born with a genetic disorder to help families "get ahead of the information … before that child hits the NICU."