Shake-up at Roche puts Diggelmann in charge of diagnostics

Roland Diggelmann will take the reins at Roche Diagnostics--courtesy of Roche

Roche ($RHHBY) pharma COO Pascal Soriot is jumping ship to head AstraZeneca ($AZN), and the ensuing boardroom shake-up means a new chief for Roche Diagnostics: Roland Diggelmann.

Current Roche Diagnostics COO Daniel O'Day will take over for Soriot on the pharma side, and Diggelmann, currently chief of the unit's Asia-Pacific region, will head the department effective Sept. 1, the company announced.

Diggelmann has been with Roche since 2008, working from the company's Singapore base. Before that, he worked in sales and marketing for Sulzer Medica/Centerpulse and Zimmer.

The Swiss-born Diggelmann inherits a unit on the rise, as Roche Diagnostics reported $1.4 billion in sales in the first half of 2012, a 5% uptick from the same period in 2011. About $511 million of that came from professional diagnostics equipment, and Roche has continued to get FDA approvals and clearances for clinical test kits, including a new dual-target HIV assay. 

And the pharma giant has affirmed its focus on diagnostics development of late, committing $300 million this summer to expand its Indianapolis Dx headquarters. Roche's doubling down on diagnostics comes after its well-publicized failure to acquire Illumina ($ILMN) for $6.7 billion. Since that rejection, Roche has said it plans to build its molecular diagnostics business through internal projects and partnerships.

Furthermore, as analysts tell The Wall Street Journal, the choice of O'Day to head the pharma business is an implicit guarantee that personalized medicine and the marriage of drugs and diagnostics will play a big part in the company's future. Severin Schwan, Roche's CEO, is also a veteran of the diagnostics division.

- read Roche's release
- get more from the WSJ
- check out FiercePharma's take

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