Roche snags diagnostics outfit IQuum in $450M deal

Roche ($RHHBY) is beefing up its point-of-care molecular diagnostics offerings, signing a deal to acquire Marlborough, MA-based IQuum for $275 million up front and up to $175 million in milestone-based payments.

Privately held IQuum's offerings are the Liat Analyzer and the Liat Influenza A/B Assay. The Analyzer enables molecular diagnostic tests to be performed by minimally trained employees in point of care settings in 20-60 minutes, according to IQuum's website, and the A/B Assay detects and discriminates between Influenza A and B. Once the transaction is complete, IQuum will join Roche's Molecular Diagnostics division.

Both products are CE marked and FDA-cleared and utilize IQuum's Laboratory in a Tube (Liat) System, which the company says enables ease of use while preserving specificity and sensitivity.

"With IQuum, we further strengthen our molecular diagnostics offerings with cutting-edge technology and products that serve the point of care segment," Roche Diagnostics COO Roland Diggelmann said in a statement. "Patients will benefit from on-the-spot and accurate diagnoses, which will allow healthcare professionals to make rapid, informed treatment decisions in flexible settings."

IQuum's Liat Workstation--Courtesy of IQuum

IQuum is also developing a workstation that can perform up to 8 nucleic acid tests simultaneously as well as assays for HIV, cytomegalovirus, influenza subtypes and dengue fever.

The move highlights the pharma giant's high activity level in the diagnostics arena. Last year, Roche purchased Boston-based hematology specialist Constitution Medical Investors for $220 million plus milestone payments and signed a diagnostics product-development deal with Pacific Biosciences ($PACB) worth as much as $75 million. In March, the company announced that it is extending and advancing a companion diagnostic collaboration with Bayer.

Roche's diagnostics division contributed $11.78 million in sales in 2013 at current exchange rates, or 22% of Roche's annual revenues. Sales increased 4% over 2012 at constant exchange rates.

- read the statement