Roche won't sell diabetes business—it's looking for deals to boost it instead

Roche
Roche is looking for technology that could potentially shore up its diabetes care unit. The business has had a rough few years thanks to reimbursement pressure in the U.S.

A week after Johnson & Johnson said it was weighing “strategic options” for its diabetes device divisions, reports emerged that Roche was doing the same with its diabetes testing unit. But diagnostics chief Roland Diggelman put an end to speculation Wednesday, saying the Swiss company wants to expand the biz, Reuters reported.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that “people familiar with the matter” said Roche was “considering options” for its diabetes care unit, including a spinoff or a sale.

Roche’s diabetes care sales dropped 4% in FY 2016, thanks to pricing pressure in the U.S. But Diggelmann dismissed reports the company was considering a sale, Reuters reported. In fact, he said, the company is on the prowl for new tech that could boost the flagging business.

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"We basically have all of the technologies we need in-house in varying degrees of development, so we have to ask ourselves, 'How far are we along?'" Diggelmann said, as quoted by Reuters "We're looking around: Are there new possibilities, are there alternatives?"

Roche faced similar speculation in 2015, after Bayer sold off its diabetes device unit to KKR/Panasonic. But while Roche’s diabetes business had had a rough couple of years, thanks

To price cuts in the U.S., Diggelmann said at the time: "It's still a good business” and “a business with a future.”

The company markets the Accu-Chek line of devices, which includes blood glucose meters and insulin pumps. It leads the diabetes testing industry, ahead of competitors J&J, Abbott and KKR/Panasonic.

In May last year, Roche Diabetes Care inked a deal with Senseonics to sell the latter’s Eversense Continuous Glucose Monitoring System in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. Senseonics’ system comprises a rice-sized sensor that is implanted just under the skin and measures blood glucose levels for 90 days.

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