Exact Sciences beefs up sales and reimbursement efforts for colon cancer Dx

Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy

Exact Sciences ($EXAS) is charting big plans for 2015, increasing its sales efforts and pushing for expanded coverage of its stool-based DNA colon cancer test to grab a bigger market share.

The Madison, WI-based company said more than 4,000 of its Cologuard tests were completed in 2014 and 5,200 tests were completed in the first quarter of 2015. And the latter number could grow to 10,000 by the end of Q1 2015, Exact CEO Kevin Conroy told investors in a recent earnings call. Altogether, the company generated $1.8 million in revenues in 2014.

But Exact could have its work cut out for it in the coming year, as it looks to expand its physician base for Cologuard. Around 12,000 of the 16,000 doctors contacted by the company have signed up to prescribe the tests and 6,300 physicians ordered the Cologuard at least once last year. Those are still small numbers, Xconomy points out, as Exact is aiming for 280,000 primary care doctor enrollees in the U.S.

To meet its goal of enrolling more physicians, the company is planning on increasing its sales team. Exact at Cologuard's launch last year had 80 sales reps, and the company plans to add 50 to 60 new sales professionals by the end of this year, Conroy told investors during the earnings call.

"We believe our team's efforts will trigger more commercial insurers to cover Cologuard during the course of 2015 and we look forward to making announcements about those physicians," Conroy said.

Meanwhile, Exact is also eyeing expanded coverage for its test. The company in October nabbed coveted Medicare coverage for Cologuard, making the tool the first and only approved stool DNA test to help spot colorectal cancer covered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But in December, Aetna and United Health decided not to cover the tests, dealing a potentially costly blow to Exact.

Conroy said the company will focus on large and regional payers to gain favorable coverage decisions. Exact has already contracted between 5 to 10 payers, but gaining additional large payers will "take more time," Conroy said. "We would like to see this move along faster and we have a team internally that is focused on it."

- here's Exact Science's earnings statement (PDF)
- read the Xconomy article

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