Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quest Diagnostics to Offer BRCA Testing

Quest Diagnostics Inc. (DGX), one of the largest laboratory diagnostics companies, plans to offer tests to identify the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations thought to predict certain types of breast cancer after the Supreme Court ruled that genes can not be patented.

Quest's entry into the market could pressure sales for Myriad Genetics Inc. (MYGN), currently the only testing company to offer BRCA tests in the U.S. However, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that human genes isolated from the body can't be patented, opening up the potential for competition to Myriad's BRCA tests.

"Based on our initial review of the Court's decision," said Wendy H. Bost, Quest's director of media relations, in an email, "we expect it will open opportunities for Quest Diagnostics to develop new testing
services, including in the area of hereditary breast cancer." As a result, the statement continued, "we now intend to validate and offer a BRCA1 and BRCA2 test service to physicians and patients later
this year."

Shares of Quest Diagnostics rose 1.4% to $62.88; meanwhile, Myriad shares fell 6.7% to $31.60. Earlier, Myriad's stock had risen as much as 13% because the Supreme Court also upheld Myriad's patents for cDNA, a synthetic version of the genes, but other methods for analyzing the genes are available to testing companies, analysts said.