How's Diagnostics Doing? Quite Well, Thank You
The diagnostics industry grew an estimated 7% from 2000 to 2001, to more than $20 million, with 8% projected for this year, according to Boston Biomedical Consultants. While in some industries, that figure might be considered lackluster, in diagnostics it is far better than the norm, especially considering that the growth was solid and broad, benefiting most top companies in many product categories.
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Until now, large diagnostics companies have been slow to get involved in the industry's biggest paradigm shift in a decade: the move to molecular markers that will help make diagnostics part of the treatment process. At this year's AACC, the small companies leading the way in this field were beginning to make their presence felt. And the big companies, J&J, Roche, Abbott, Beckman, were starting to talk about their own programs in the field. But they're moving slowly in a fast-moving field, and thus are vulnerable to new competitors.
For more than a year, Dade Behring has been wading through a financial morass that is likely to lead to bankruptcy, a sale of assets, or a reorganization of capital structure. As concerns mount about its long-term prospects, Dade Behring and its lenders are seeking to restructure the company's burdensome long-term debt. While stubborn lenders have been unwilling to accept less than a near-to-full return on their investment, several events this spring seem to be motivating them to be more flexible.
Roche Diagnostics is the best performing asset at Roche. As the troubled Swiss pharma company suffers through its worst pipeline drought in a decade, Roche Diagnostics is delivering a stellar performance. It is strong across all business segments, from laboratory systems to diabetes to molecular testing. Its challenge: to pull far enough ahead in its traditional businesses to maintain a comfortable lead. Its bigger hurdle, however, is to position itself as a leader in adoption of new genomic and proteomic diagnostic technologies, which is where the industry's future growth lies.