Amid Dx sales growth, Roche Diagnostics considers another buy

Roche CEO Severin Schwan--Image courtesy of the Roche Group.

Roche ($RHHBY) posted 4% sales growth for its diagnostics unit in the first 9 months of the year, and the company has no plans to stand pat, looking at potential gene sequencing deals.

Earlier this year, sequencing heavy Illumina ($ILMN) rebuffed Roche's $6.7 billion hostile takeover, but the company is still looking to expand its gene-based companion diagnostics through internal investment and external acquisitions, CEO Severin Schwan told Bloomberg. He declined to comment on rumors that Roche would take another stab at buying Illumina.

But Roche Diagnostics is still plugging along without writing any big checks, as the first 9 months' 4% growth was driven by a 9% boost in professional diagnostics and a 15% jump for tissue diagnostics. Molecular diagnostic sales grew by 4%, and immunoassays saw a 15% increase, bringing Roche Diagnostics 9-month revenue to $8.1 billion.

Roche is still struggling with its diabetes diagnostics unit, however, posting another 5% sales decline after H1's 1% drop. The company says it's grappling with reimbursement cuts and pricing pressures in the diabetes world but is in the process of restructuring the unit to adapt to a changing climate.

Diagnostics remains a core focus for the Swiss drug giant, as more than 60% of Roche's pipeline treatments are paired with companion diagnostics, Schwan said last month. Herceptin, Roche's blockbuster breast cancer drug, trips off the patent cliff in 2014, and the company hopes to duplicate its success with similarly targeted therapies.

On the whole, Roche posted a company-wide 4% revenue jump, pulling in $33.7 billion on the period, owing largely to its cancer drugs Zelboraf, Erivedge and the recently launched Perjeta.

- read Roche's statement
- get more from Bloomberg