Roche Diagnostics

Roche Diagnostics ($RHHBY)
CEO: Severin Schwan
Based: Basel, Switzerland
2014 diagnostics division sales: $11.78 billion
2013 diagnostics division sales: $11.30 billion
Change: +4%

The diagnostics division of the Big Pharma powerhouse churned out 14 product launches in 2014. Most notable was the worldwide debut of the Cobas 6800 and 8800 next-generation molecular testing systems. Blood screening and virology assays for the Cobas platform hit the market as well. Unfortunately for the company, those launches exclude the U.S.

Sales of the Cobas analyzers powered 8% sales growth in the professional diagnostics segment, especially in immunodiagnostics, which had sales growth of 13% and now represents more than a quarter of the division's sales. In addition, the Cobas 6500 for urine analysis launched in Europe.

Meanwhile, molecular diagnostics sales were up 6%, led by strong growth in HPV screening sales, which grew 48% during 2014. Tissue diagnostics, including immunohistochemistry reagents, saw 10% growth.

And finally, diabetes care sales grew 1%. They fell 6% in North America, primarily due to price declines of diabetes test strips as a result of Medicare's National Mail-Order Program for diabetic supplies. But the Accu-Chek insulin pump and blood glucose monitor and Accu-Chek Insight blood glucose meter with connectivity to smartphones, mobile applications and the cloud launched in Europe.

The company made a number of recent acquisitions to further bulk up in the diagnostics arena. Roche Chief Operating Officer Roland Diggelmann said during the most recent earnings call that the purchase of IQuum gives the company the ability to conduct PCR via desktop device.

In addition, Roche added Ariosa Diagnostics in December to get its hands on the company's noninvasive prenatal testing technology. Days later it purchased Bina Technologies to gain access to the company's innovative genomic sequencing system.

But those deals pale in comparison to Roche's $1 billion move for a majority share of Foundation Medicine ($FMI) to strengthen its presence in cancer diagnostics.

Those transactions only made the diagnostic industry's biggest player even bigger. According to Diggelmann, Roche Diagnostics seeks to provide the best instruments and broadest test menu. "Literally what we can do here is configure any lab, (seeking) low, mid, (or) high throughput requirements with our modular systems and automate the laboratory process, again rendering our customers more and more efficient," he said during the earnings call.

-- Varun Saxena (email | Twitter)

For more:
Roche, BioMed X to jointly run diagnostics incubator in Germany
Roche scoops up Signature Diagnostics to gain ground in next-generation sequencing
Roche grabs majority share in Foundation Medicine for $1B plus milestones

Roche Diagnostics