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LetsGetChecked Plans PGx, Whole-Genome Sequencing Panels Following Veritas Acquisition


NEW YORK — LetsGetChecked plans to introduce two new product offerings later this year gained through its acquisitions of Veritas Genetics and its sister company Veritas Intercontinental. Thanks to the deal, the firm is also poised to expand its global footprint.

The company, which is co-headquartered in Dublin and New York, announced its intention to buy both firms this week, with the deal slated to close within the remaining days of this quarter. LetsGetChecked CEO Peter Foley said by email this week that he could not discuss financial terms of the combination at this time. He, however, previewed potential products stemming from the deal.

According to Foley, the first product that LetsGetChecked will introduce post-acquisition is a pharmacogenomics panel that will "help health plans, employers, and other clients to identify potential adverse drug reactions, improve prescription confidence, and reduce costs, among other things."

By year end, LetsGetChecked also aims to launch a whole-genome sequencing panel that will provide insights on hundreds of genetic diseases and carrier conditions, he said.

Foley did not provide additional information on the intended offerings, but pharmacogenomics is part of Veritas Genetics' flagship myGenome offering, and as of October 2021, the firm provided users with a pharmacogenomic profile, including information about their potential reaction to more than 150 drugs.

The whole-genome sequencing panel mentioned by Foley is territory well explored by Veritas, which has built its services by offering customers' their whole genome data, curated by its team of scientists worldwide via the Veritas Genetics laboratory in Danvers, Massachusetts, as well as Veritas Intercontinental's facility in Barcelona, Spain. It is unclear how LetsGetChecked's panel will differ from what Veritas already offers, but once the product deploys, the company will be able to offer it in more than 30 countries globally, given the breadth of Veritas' international presence.

Veritas Intercontinental was founded in 2018 to bring Veritas Genetics' offering abroad, and the company has people on the ground in multiple regions. Veritas Intercontinental is headquartered in Madrid and maintains a laboratory in Barcelona. It also has an office in Milan that serves Central and Eastern Europe, as well as one in Bogota, Colombia, serving Latin America, and another in São Paulo that is focused on the Brazilian market.

Foley acknowledged that expanding LetsGetChecked's footprint was one factor behind the acquisitions. "As a global company, it made sense to bring both Veritas Genetics and Veritas Intercontinental together to enable growth on an international scale," Foley said. "We included Veritas Intercontinental in the transaction in order to broaden our international scope," he added.

Veritas Intercontinental CEO Javier de Echevarria said his firm currently sells to more than 30 countries across these regions, either directly or via local distributors. Overall, it employs about 65 people, he said.

Veritas Intercontinental's diverse offering includes not only myGenome, but a service focused on inherited cardiovascular pathology of about 100 genes using whole-exome sequencing called myCardio. There is another exome-sequencing based offering for hereditary cancers called myCancerRisk, and during the pandemic, Veritas Intercontinental rolled out yet another whole-exome sequencing service called COVID-19 Risk to predict the chances of developing infection-related complications.

Veritas Intercontinental also has a suite of reproductive genetics tests, including a noninvasive prenatal test called myPrenatal; an early screening test called myNewborn; and a combined service called myBabyHealth. All of these tests will now come under the LetsGetChecked umbrella, but how LetsGetChecked will integrate the Veritas offerings is still under discussion.

"We are focused on ensuring there is a seamless integration of the Veritas brand at LetsGetChecked," said Foley, when asked about future branding of the Veritas services. "Over the course of the next few months, we will launch a strategy that jointly serves our goals and core values to support a new cohesive whole," he said.

For LetsGetChecked, an 8-year-old company that specializes in selling at-home diagnostics and supporting them via its scalable virtual care infrastructure, including a telehealth platform, as well as pharmacy prescription services, the acquisitions of Veritas Genetics and Veritas Intercontinental will give it access to sequencing technology developed in the lab of George Church at Harvard Medical School.

It also fits with the company's rather breakneck growth, from an Irish startup to an international firm employing 700 people, with a laboratory in California and pharmacy in Florida. Last year, LetsGetChecked raised $150 million to support the development of its telehealth and pharmacy services, and the company similarly closed a series B round worth $30 million in 2019.

Foley maintained that the dual acquisitions were initiated in order to expand the firm's offerings, and to "leverage the power of whole-genome sequencing to launch a full life cycle of personalized healthcare, which has always been our goal."

Veritas Genetics CEO and Cofounder Mirza Cifric commented via email that the combination of the two company's platforms would lead to numerous new product offerings. "The introduction of genetics into LetsGetChecked's vertically integrated, end-to-end platform will bring forth a full life cycle of personalized healthcare," said Cifric. He commented that it aligned with Veritas' goals of making whole-genome sequencing-derived health information widely accessible.

Veritas Intercontinental's de Echevarria noted that the deal benefits his firm as well, and remarked that genetics was one capability that LetsGetChecked was missing within its services offering. He also cited Veritas' experience with the lab industry as being a bonus for LetsGetChecked; de Echevarria held senior positions at Synlab for years before becoming CEO of Veritas Intercontinental four years ago, for example. 

In return, he said, Veritas Intercontinental will benefit from LetsGetChecked's technical capabilities, market access, and strengths in at-home testing and procurement. According to de Echevarria, Veritas will maintain its current portfolio of preventive and diagnostic services but will continue to grow and develop new services following the acquisition.

"Above all, this [deal] simply makes sense," de Echevarria said, adding that it signifies a "crucial advancement" in the companies' missions to empower individuals, and enable consumers and healthcare partners to be more proactive in healthcare management.