Sequenom posts loss in Q2, plans to boost Dx volume

Sequenom ($SQNM) took a $29.8 million loss in the second quarter, but the company is encouraged by a 38% jump in year-to-year revenue for the quarter and is increasing its adoption goal for its trisomy diagnostic.

MaterniT21, the company's test for genetic mutations, like Down syndrome, has moved about 20,000 units since its launch in October, and Sequenom is doubling its previously announced goal for 2012, looking to sell 50,000 kits on the year.

However, demand for the diagnostic may be dampened by Sequenom's top competitor, Ariosa Diagnostics, which markets the similar Harmony prenatal test. Just how similar the two assays are is a matter for the courts: Sequenom is suing Ariosa, claiming Harmony infringes on the company's patent for MaterniT21, but the firm was dealt a blow this month when a federal judge ruled that Ariosa could continue selling its test while the case is pending.

Either way, Sequenom is pushing ahead with its diagnostic, planning to add 25 employees to its sales staff to increase adoption of the test. In Q2, at least, the sales push largely paid off: The company's diagnostics revenues increased more than five-fold over the previous year, swelling to $8.1 million thanks to MaterniT21.

For its part, Ariosa is looking to take the lion's share of the market, this week announcing another study of Harmony designed to win over more providers and labs, and the company has a deal with LabCorp ($LH) to get the Dx in that firm's more than 1,000 U.S. facilities. But the winner of the squabble could be determined by simple economics: MaterniT21 costs $1,900 per test, while Harmony goes for $795 a pop.

- read Sequenom's statement

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