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QIAGEN Transfers Distribution Rights for Transplantation Testing Product Portfolio and Related Assets to LinkMed
Transaction allows QIAGEN to increase focus on personalized medicine applications of HLA testing products
The Olerup SSP® product line includes molecular transplantation testing products used for DNA HLA typing. QIAGEN will retain rights to all Olerup SSP® assays for applications outside transplantation testing, such as in personalized medicine. The transaction does not affect QIAGEN's presence in new sequencing-based typing assays in the area of transplantation. As part of the transaction, QIAGEN will transfer all assets related to its Olerup SSP® HLA sales infrastructure to LinkMed, including office infrastructure in Austria. LinkMed will assume this office's staff of eight employees.
Through this transaction, QIAGEN is increasing its focus on the higher growth applications in transplantation testing such as sequencing-based typing, as well as the application of such assays in personalized medicine.
Human leukocyte antigens (HLA) are molecules found on cell surfaces that regulate how the body recognizes and thus possibly rejects foreign tissue transplants. Molecular profiling of HLA sequences, or "Typing", is typically performed prior to organ or bone marrow transplantations: the better the HLA match between a donor and a recipient, the lower the risk for transplantation-related complications, such as graft versus host disease, where the body rejects the transplant. The products QIAGEN covered in this distribution rights transfer agreement are the sequence specific primer ("SSP") typing products for determining HLA alleles using PCR techniques with SSP. The SSP technology was added to QIAGEN's product portfolio in 2002 as part of the acquisition of GenoVision. Historically, these products have been sold at a lower margin than QIAGEN's average molecular diagnostic assays and have been focused on certain niche market segments only. Going forward, QIAGEN will focus on the commercialization of its new SBTexcellerator kits from its alliance with Genome Diagnostics N.V. In contrast to SSP, the SBTexcellerator product line, which was completed in March 2009, uses another advanced HLA typing technology, known as "Sequencing-Based Typing" (SBT).
According to the agreement, QIAGEN will continue to have distribution rights to Olerup SSP® products that can be used in applications outside transplantation testing, such as the rapidly emerging use of such products in personalized medicine. Such tests include, among others, the typing of the HLA-B*5701 allele - a test to assess the risk of AIDS patients for severe adverse reactions to the widely prescribed HIV drug component Abacavir. The agreement also includes options for QIAGEN to distribute future Olerup SSP® assays for pharmacogenetic applications.
"This transaction gives us the chance to quickly jump-start sales of a well-established product-line that seamlessly fits into our overall offering", said Ingemar Lagerlöf, CEO of LinkMed, which had acquired the research and production parts of the Olerup SSP® business in 2008. Recently, LinkMed has established Olerup International AB for future distribution of its SSP products.
"The agreement with LinkMed allows us to further execute our corporate strategy and streamline our portfolio. We focus on the development and commercialization of innovative sample and assay technologies for molecular diagnostics, which are strongly driven by the emergence of personalized medicine", said Peer M. Schatz, CEO of QIAGEN. "HLA assays are expected to play a key role in personalized medicine as evidenced by recent developments and research. Through our new arrangement, we can increase our focus on a portfolio of HLA-related products for use in the high growth area of personalized medicine."
The transfer of the Olerup SSP® product line does not impose any changes in ordering processing for HLA customers using SBTexcellerator kits. QIAGEN's life science and diagnostics customers in Austria will be served by the German sales organization, while customers in Turkey continue to order all SSP kits via QIAGEN's local sales office ATQ.
The transaction is expected to reduce QIAGEN's revenues in the second half of 2009 by approximately US$10 million but will neither impact the company's expected adjusted earnings per share for full year 2009 nor future expected earnings.
LinkMed develops life science companies in collaboration with innovators and other financiers. By contributing management and capital, LinkMed has created a portfolio of twelve companies, four in drug development and biotechnology and eight in diagnostics and medical technology. LinkMed is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Nordic Exchange in the Small Cap section (ticker: LMED). In 2008, LinkMed has acquired Olerup SSP AB, a leading producer of SSP-based human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue typing kits and reagents. Olerup SSP's products are sold world-wide to tissue typing laboratories, national bone marrow donor registries and other laboratories. Within the segment PCR-SSP, management estimates Olerup SSP to be the global leader in relation to HLA. Olerup SSP AB is a wholly owned subsidiary of LinkMed. Olerup International AB owned by LinkMed and SSP Primers AB will from now on handle distribution and sales of Olerup SSP products.
Statements contained in this release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements, including statements about our products, markets, strategy and operating results. Such statements are based on current expectations that involve risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, those associated with: management of growth and international operations (including currency fluctuations and logistics), variability of our operating results, commercial development of our markets (including applied testing, clinical and academic research, proteomics, women's health/HPV testing and molecular diagnostics), our relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners, competition, changes in technology, fluctuations in demand, regulatory requirements, identifying, developing and producing integrated products differentiated from our competitors' products, market acceptance of our products, and integration of acquired technologies and businesses. For further information, refer to our filings with the SEC, including our latest Form 20-F. Information in this release is as of the date of the release, and we undertake no duty to update this information unless required by law.
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