Genzyme, Veracyte Strike Deal to Market Thyroid Cancer Diagnostic

1/20/12Follow @xconomy

Veracyte has been gaining momentum the past few months with a new molecular diagnostic for thyroid cancer, and today it’s taking another step ahead by forming an alliance with Genzyme, the maker of a common drug for treating the disease.

South San Francisco-based Veracyte said today that it has formed a global co-promotion deal with Genzyme, the Cambridge, MA-based unit of Sanofi, in which the bigger company will start marketing Veracyte’s Afirma test. Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed.

Veracyte, which was featured here in November, has been selling a gene expression test over the past year to help doctors determine when a lump in the thyroid gland is benign, or potentially malignant. Almost 500,000 suspicious thyroid lumps get biopsied in pathology labs every year, and about 20 to 30 percent of those tests offer “inconclusive” results. Fearing the worst, many of those patients go on to have surgery to remove their thyroid glands at a cost of about $12,000 to $16,000 apiece, plus a lifetime of thyroid hormone medications.

Veracyte’s proposition to doctors is that by doing a standard fine-needle biopsy test, and paying $3,500 for Veracyte to perform its Afirma gene expression analysis, they can rule out malignancies early in the game. That is supposed to cut down on unnecessary surgeries, and save insurers some money. Earlier this month, a Medicare contractor that covers 40 million people said it has agreed to cover the test.

Genzyme has long had interest in the thyroid cancer field, through its marketing of thyrotropin alfa (Thyrogen). “Together, our products offer patients and physicians a powerful personalized medicine solution for the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer, addressing an unmet need in the community and improving patient outcomes,” said Genzyme’s head of rare diseases, Rogerio Vivaldi, in a statement.

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  • B Lunnon

    Funny that they’re not showing off quite so much about the ongoing long lasting problem of Genzyme’s failure to solve the problem of supplying Thyrogen to those that need it. Don’t buy into this announcement as good news – there are many thousands of thyroid cancer patients around the world putting themselves through the pain and distress of drug withdrawal all because this joke of a company seems to have forgotten how to make and supply a drug that’s been on their books for years. Genzyme is an excellent example of a company that cares much more about its shareholders than it ever will about the poor patients who depend upon their products.