Does Roche Have It Right?
Roche's hostile tender offer for Ventana Medical Systems, and to a lesser extent its recent acquisitions of life science tools companies this year, highlight the firm's belief in diagnostics and its bet that personalized medicine--an area where innovative platforms and molecular test content will play significant if separate roles--will be key to its long-term growth. It could be an expensive and risky strategy that will take years to come to fruition.
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With current technology and resources, a well-funded in vitro diagnostics company can create and pursue a strategy of information gathering and informatics application to create medical knowledge, enabling it to assume the risk and manage certain segments of patients. But few if any pharma or diagnostics firms appear poised to take advantage.
Roche’s $5.7 billion hostile takeover offer for Illumina is opportunistic as well as strategic. It is a validation of Illumina’s long-term growth potential but also takes advantage of a depressed stock price due to the global economic slowdown and cutbacks in government funding that have hurt Illumina and other providers of gene sequencing instrumentation.
Novartis' $440 million offer for cancer testing services lab Genoptix is another sign of the pharma giant's intent to build a full-blown molecular diagnostics business. The acquisition adds muscle to its existing Molecular Diagnostics unit. Coming just months after GE grabbed up Clarient, it is another example of the value of a specialty cancer services testing operation to an organization looking to bolster channel access to oncologists and pathologists.