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Roche Q1 Diagnostics Revenues Up 6 Percent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Roche said today that its diagnostics revenues grew 6 percent year over year for the first quarter of 2017, driven by growth in its centralized and point-of-care solutions segment.

For the three months ended March 31, the Swiss pharmaceutical and diagnostics company reported overall revenues of CHF 12.94 billion ($13.07 billion), up 4 percent from CHF 12.41 billion in Q1 2016.

In diagnostics, Roche reported revenues of CHF 2.77 billion, up from CHF 2.61 billion in 2016.

Within the diagnostics business, the centralized and point-of-care solutions segment was the main contributor to growth with revenues of CHF 1.64 billion, up 8 percent from CHF 1.52 billion in the prior-year quarter, and spurred on by 13 percent growth in immunodiagnostics sales.

Within the segment, the firm received US regulatory approval for its cobas e 801 module, for immunodiagnostics, which had already been made available in the European Union and markets accepting the CE mark. The system doubles the currently available immunochemistry testing capacity over the same floor space, requires only low sample volume, and delivers fast results, Roche said. The firm also noted that its recently launched cobas m 511 integrated hematology analyzer has been well received by customers in Q1.

Molecular diagnostics revenues were CHF 441 million, down 1 percent from CHF 446 million in Q1 2017. In virology, a part of molecular diagnostics that includes Roche’s portfolio for the diagnosis and monitoring of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV, sales fell 6 percent. On a conference call with analysts following the release of the earnings, Roche Diagnostics CEO Roland Diggelmann said virology sales were impacted by testing programs involving non-government organizations and a base effect from strong HCV sales in the prior year. Sales in the blood screening business, down 4 percent, were affected by the timing of tender renewals in several markets, he added.

Tissue diagnostics revenues were CHF 236 million, up 15 percent from CHF 206 million, and driven primarily by sales growth in North America and Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The business segment "continues to do very well" for Roche, Diggelmann said. Within this business segment, sales in the firm's advanced staining portfolio and in primary staining were up 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively, and the companion diagnostics business grew 40 percent.

Diabetes care posted CHF 447 million, up 1 percent from CHF 443 million. In Q1, Roche introduced the Accu-Chek Instant system for blood glucose monitoring “in various markets” in the EU, but the firm continues "to see a very challenging environment in diabetes care," Diggelmann said.

The firm said that its global diagnostics segment growth was spurred on by the Asia–Pacific region revenues, which grew 12 percent year over year to CHF 594 million from CHF 529 million a year ago, and by Latin America revenues, which were up 29 percent to CHF 203 million, from CHF 157 million.

EMEA revenues were CHF 1.13 billion, flat versus revenues booked in Q1 2016. Japan revenues were CHF 102 million, up 7 percent year over year from CHF 95 million, and North America revenues were CHF 740 million, up 5 percent from CHF 703 million in the prior-year quarter.

Roche said that in Q1 2017, it launched the cobas HPV DNA test for cobas 6800/8800 systems in the EU and other markets accepting the CE mark. The US Food and Drug Administration also cleared its CINtec histology test to aid in the diagnosis of cervical pre-cancer.

These tests are a key part of Roche's portfolio for preventing cervical cancer, which is caused in almost all cases by the human papillomavirus and is a leading cause of death in women, the company said. The firm said that its women's health portfolio — which consists of immunoassays, molecular and sequencing assays, and tissue testing — grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 25 percent from 2013 to 2016.

The firm said it also launched the cobas Liat real-time PCR system in markets accepting the CE mark. It noted that the system covers four assays, including a test for the rapid detection of Clostridium difficile, and that timely and accurate diagnosis of this infection is important because it can quickly become life-threatening. On the conference call, Diggelmann said that in 2017, Roche expects to launch an MRSA/Staphylococcus aureus assay with the Liat in Europe, and that infectious disease assays are also forthcoming.

In the US, meanwhile, Roche launched the cobas e 801 module for high-volume immunology testing in Q1.  

In 2017, Roche expects sales to grow at a low- to mid-single digit rate, at constant exchange rates, and it expects core earnings per share to grow in line with sales, also at constant exchange rates.

Roche's Pharmaceuticals division booked CHF 10.2 billion in first quarter sales, up 4 percent from last year's first quarter sales of CHF 9.80 billion.