Roche (RHHBY) Launches Next-Generation Hepatitis B Test - Analyst Blog

Investors in the pharma/biotech sector eagerly wait for pipeline updates as they play an important role in deciding whether or not to invest in a particular company. These updates provide information on experimental drugs and at times give an insight on the commercial potential of the candidate once it is successfully developed and commercialized.

Roche Holding AGRHHBY recently announced that it has launched the next-generation viral load assay for Hepatitis B virus (HBV) in markets that accept the CE mark.

This HBV quantitative nucleic acid test, designed for use on the cobas 6800/8800 systems, further broadens Roche's molecular diagnostic platforms portfolio. We note that the viral load monitoring portfolio already consists of cobas HIV-1, HCV and CMV (launched in late 2014).

The new assay will offer comprehensive coverage of all known HBV genotypes (A-H) with high sensitivity, across all critical medical decision points.

The diagnostic test will enable the quantification of HBV DNA with a lower sample requirement, thereby providing with a new standard of flexibility.

As per the World Health Organization, approximately 2 billion people worldwide have been infected with HBV, resulting in more than 1 million deaths every year. Since most HBV infections are either asymptomatic or never reported, the actual number of new infections is estimated to be tenfold higher.

Roche specializes in drugs for oncology, immunology and infectious diseases. Apart from providing therapeutic products and services for diverse medical needs, the company also focuses on innovative diagnostic solutions for early detection and treatment of diseases.

This pharmaceutical major has a broad portfolio of diagnostic tests with more than a hundred high-quality Elecsys assays for immune testing along with a new generation of fully automated cobas analyzers for improved medical decision making, scheduling and efficiency.

The Diagnostics division generated sales of CHF10.8 billion in 2014, up 3% from a year ago. We are impressed by Roche's efforts to strengthen its Diagnostic division, which should further boost sales.

Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include Sucampo Pharmaceuticals SCMP , Lannett Company, Inc LCI and Salix Pharmaceuticals SLXP . All three sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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