Q&A with QIAGEN about Ipsogen buy

Recently, QIAGEN announced it has entered into talks to purchase a 47 percent initial stake in France's Ipsogen and subsequently make a public offer to fully acquire the company. The potential acquisition would give QIAGEN access to a range of assays covering 15 biomarkers used for the diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of patients with various blood cancers. Martin Potgeter, senior director, corporate business development discussed with FierceMedicalDevices what the acquisition means for his company.

FMD: What does the acquisition mean for QIAGEN in terms of market share?

Potgeter: QIAGEN is a global leader in molecular diagnostics and markets a broad portfolio of complete testing solutions that cover all relevant applications including the prevention of diseases, profiling of infections, personalized healthcare and point-of-need testing. The planned acquisition of Ipsogen will further strengthen QIAGEN's offering in molecular diagnostics and help us to further grow this business, particularly in profiling and personalized healthcare. While Ipsogen has achieved a leading position in commercial leukemia testing, market shares vary by regions and individual indications. Also, in leukemia testing homebrew assays still account for the majority of the testing volume, providing significant opportunities for future growth through conversion to standardized kits.

FMD: Will it allow it to enter markets in which QIAGEN does not yet have a footprint? And will it greatly expand QIAGEN's footprint in any particular market?

Potgeter: The acquisition of Ipsogen doesn't mark the entry into completely new markets, but rather a further expansion of our offering to include new indications, most notably leukemia. With this transaction, QIAGEN will get access to a broad range of blood cancer tests covering 15 different biomarkers, including JAK2 and BCR-ABL, for profiling and monitoring of patients. These particular indications were previously not covered by our existing portfolio and provide interesting opportunities for future growth.

FMD:  How will the buy expand/complement QIAGEN's current offerings?

Potgeter: In terms of our portfolio, the acquisition will add 80 different tests covering 15 biomarkers. These tests are divided into four different families, namely BCR-ABL for chronic myeloid leukemia, JAK2 V617F for various myeloproliferative diseases, PML-RARA for promyelocytic leukemia, and a group of several products for use with a range of rare forms of leukemia. The best-selling group includes assays for the diagnosis and monitoring of mutations of the JAK2 gene. Ipsogen has a worldwide exclusive license for this key biomarker, which is targeted by many pharmaceutical compounds under development for treatment of various blood cancers. In addition, Ipsogen is also developing the Genomic Grade Test, a multigene expression test that seeks to address unmet diagnostic needs for women with early invasive hormone-receptor positive breast cancer. Since Ipsogen's tests are based upon the same quantitative PCR technology used by QIAGEN in many of its own assays and can be used on QIAGEN's real-time PCR cycler Rotor-Gene Q, it will be possible to smoothly and rapidly transfer these unique products onto QIAGEN's QIAsymphony RGQ, a novel integrated sample-to-result laboratory automation platform that includes the Rotor-Gene Q system. Equally important, the acquisition will further strengthen our capabilities to offer a complete companion diagnostics solution to pharma companies, as many of Ipsogen's assays have significant potential to be used as companion diagnostics in personalized healthcare. With these assays we will this be able to extend our range of partnerships. In fact, we have a number of potential companion diagnostics projects in negotiations that would involve the BCR-ABL and JAK2 biomarkers, and we will look at potential agreements on other biomarkers in the Ipsogen portfolio. 

FMD:  News of the buy comes soon after the announcement of the Cellestis acquisition. Are the buys part of a growth strategy? And where are we in terms of the Cellestis deal?

Potgeter:  Targeted, synergistic acquisitions that help to accelerate the company's organic growth are indeed an important part of QIAGEN's growth strategy, and Ipsogen is expected to contribute to the company's sales growth upon closing. The Cellestis deal would be equally synergistic, as the company's QuantiFERON products complement QIAGEN's existing portfolio of molecular assays. With the publication of the official scheme book including the Independent Expert Report on QIAGEN's offer, last week marked a significant milestone in the acquisition process.  Shareholders now have a validated analysis to make fully informed decisions. The report fully reaffirms that QIAGEN's offer of A$3.55 is not only full and fair, but is actually above the valuation range and more than adequately compensates shareholders. The report also lays out that while Cellestis has good growth prospects, it also faces many challenges to maintain a strong growth pace as a stand-alone company. Now it is time for Cellestis shareholders to review the facts and realize the compelling offer put forward by QIAGEN and to support the scheme on July 20th. 

FMD:  After the buy is complete, what plans do you have for Ipsogen?

Potgeter: While it is too early to talk about integration details, this acquisition is clearly about growth. We expect to merge the two companies in a way that makes the most sense for our business and ensures the best value for our customers and shareholders. We plan to integrate Ipsogen quickly and successfully as we have done with 17 other companies in recent years. One element in our plans is the establishment of Ipsogen's Marseilles site as a global center of excellence within QIAGEN focused on leukemia and breast cancer, as well as for the development and manufacturing of other molecular tests. All of Ipsogen's managing cofounders would stay with QIAGEN following the acquisition and contribute to the combined future mission.