Sequenom expands prenatal diagnostic with overseas deals

Sequenom ($SQNM) is following through on its goal to double sales for the MaterniT21 Plus prenatal test, signing distribution agreements in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

In July, Sequenom said it planned to move 50,000 units of the test, which screens for genetic mutations that could lead to miscarriage or Down syndrome. The new agreements will make the assay available in Hong Kong, Japan, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Israel, the company said. Furthermore, Sequenom licensed the test's technology to LifeCodexx in Europe, and that company is selling kits in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, Sequenom's rival Ariosa Diagnostics is pressing on with its prenatal test, Harmony. Both assays screen for mutations in the trisomy 21 gene, and just how similar they are is a matter for a court to decide. Sequenom is suing Ariosa, claiming Harmony infringes on the company's patent for MaterniT21 Plus, but the firm was dealt a blow in July when a federal judge ruled that Ariosa could continue selling its test while the case is pending.

Regardless, San Diego's Sequenom is pushing forward with MaterniT21 Plus, adding to its sales staff to meet the 50,000-unit goal. It has accessioned nearly 27,000 samples since the start of the year, and expanding its market share overseas will help Sequenom boost that number, CEO Harry Hixson said in a statement.

"We believe the completion of these international agreements represents an important advance in access to and future adoption of our technology in the international prenatal care market," Hixson said. "We look forward to working closely with each of our partners in these countries and to continuing our efforts to further expand access for expectant parents around the world."

- read Sequenom's release

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