Myriad expands companion diagnostic deals

Myriad Genetics expands companion diagnostic collaborations with drugmakers.
Myriad Genetics expands companion diagnostic collaborations with drugmakers.

Myriad Genetics is testing out its new role as a provider of companion diagnostics, most recently by expanding agreements with AstraZeneca and BioMarin to evaluate the use of Myriad's genetic tests for cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials.


Still, revenue in Myriad's hereditary cancer testing business fell 6.2% to $159 million in the company's fiscal third quarter of 2015, compared to $169.6 million in the same quarter a year ago. Overall revenue dropped 1.6% to $180 million during the quarter.

Myriad executives told investors that severe weather in the first two months of the year and the reset of deductibles in January for patients with high-deductible health plans contributed to the quarter's performance.


Myriad has been under pressure to diversify its business model since the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a patent that had until that point allowed the company to be the sole US provider of tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which carry a higher-than-normal risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA testing used to generate 75% of Myriad's revenue.


The company has since focused on panel testing, which is used to identify 25 gene mutations associated with multiple hereditary cancers, rather than single syndrome tests. It has also formed partnerships with drugmakers for companion diagnostics.


Myriad said in April that it had expanded its collaboration with AstraZeneca, which it first partnered with in 2007. Myriad's test will be used in clinical trials to prospectively identify which patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer respond to Lynparza (olaparib), AstraZeneca's ovarian-cancer drug approved by the FDA late last year. The agency had also approved Myriad's genetic test as a companion diagnostic to Lynparza in December. Lynparza brought in $9 million in sales in AstraZeneca's first quarter of 2015.


As the industry delves deeper into developing precision medicines, more testing companies are developing relationships with drugmakers. Testing every pancreatic-cancer patient is a potential market of $500 million, Myriad said.


“We have seen significant interest by physicians,” Mark Capone, a Myriad executive who will take over as CEO in June, told investors.


Myriad announced in March that it had expanded another agreement with BioMarin Pharmaceutical to prospectively identify cancer patients who may respond to talazoparib, an experimental PARP inhibitor.


Earlier this week the company launched a digital media campaign to raise awareness about the role of companion diagnostics in treating cancer patients.

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