bioMerieux Pushes Ahead in Genomics
BioMerieux's investment in Genome Therapeutics Corp. may be small by pharmaceutical standards, but it signals a significant commitment for an in vitro diagnostics company. The French maker of infectious disease tests and the Massachusetts genomics company are collaborating on the development of tests for infectious diseases for humans and industrial applications. The alliance is broadly reminiscent of the deal between Becton Dickinson and Millenium Predictive Medicine, although the focus is infectious diseases and the size of the investment is much smaller. Still, it signals the increasing importance of novel content to diagnostics companies looking for high-margin, highly proprietary markers to grow their businesses.
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In early July, the family-owned French firm bioMerieux SA launched an IPO by listing a third of its shares on the French bourse. The offering has been a success, primarily enabling a restless shareholder to sell its stake. And while the microbiology company didn't raise money for itself, it will have to change its corporate culture, opening its books to the public for the first time and requiring it to be responsive to shareholders.
The year-old union of bioMerieux-Pierre Fabre appears to be on the verge of disintegrating, amid lack of a coherent strategy, disagreements between the two founders who spearheaded the deal, and departure of key top executives. The company won't comment except to say that it is considering various alternatives including a break-up. Unraveling should not be difficult, since the two companies haven't integrated much. And the separation would leave bioMerieux, now the world's eighth largest diagnostics company, and Pierre Fabre, one of France's largest independent pharmaceutical companies, free to seek more appropriate solutions to the challenges they face.
BD Diagnostics has gained emergency use authorization (EUA) for a handheld rapid COVID-19 antigen test that could play a pivotal role in fighting an ongoing surge of coronavirus outbreaks. See what US FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said about it here.