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Chiron and Roche Bury the Hatchet--for Now

Executive Summary

After years of jousting over Chiron's HCV patents, Chiron and Roche have finally come to an agreement, or at least a partial agreement--with implications for anyone working with HCV and HIV testing. Chiron, in exchange for licensing HCV and HIV to Roche for diagnostic purposes, will receive up to $115 million from Roche, not counting future royalties. But their disagreement over rights to HCV and HIV for blood screening has yet to be resolved.

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Blood Brothers: Chiron and Gen-Probe

The FDA's approval of Procleix HIV-1/ HCV combination assays all but cemented Chiron and Gen-Probe's dominance of DNA-based screening of the US blood supply. The approval changes the economics of providing HIV/ HCV screening to blood banks. The blood banks had been using Procleix or two separate tests supplied by Roche under IND status, paying at cost. Now, they have to pay commercial prices for Procleix. The hike is stretching budgets, but, for a variety of reasons, still more than 70% of US blood banks use Procleix, which is a combination of two assays on one sample.

Blood Brothers: Chiron and Gen-Probe

The FDA's approval of Procleix HIV-1/ HCV combination assays all but cemented Chiron and Gen-Probe's dominance of DNA-based screening of the US blood supply. The approval changes the economics of providing HIV/ HCV screening to blood banks. The blood banks had been using Procleix or two separate tests supplied by Roche under IND status, paying at cost. Now, they have to pay commercial prices for Procleix. The hike is stretching budgets, but, for a variety of reasons, still more than 70% of US blood banks use Procleix, which is a combination of two assays on one sample.

Safe Blood At Any Cost?

With AIDS and HCV under control, companies large and small are looking to protect the blood supply from a range of known and as yet unknown pathogens, which pose potential threats. Near-term attention is focusing on emerging pathogen inactivation technologies, which are moving closer to the clinic, even as questions linger about their cost effectiveness and toxicity.

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