Roche signs licensing and settlement agreements for Hepatitis C immunodiagnostics

RocheRoche announced licensing and settlement agreements with Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. and Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics in the field of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Diagnostics. Under the terms of the licensing agreement Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. and Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics granted Roche Diagnostics a worldwide royalty-bearing license under their broad patent portfolio for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in the field of immunodiagnostics. The agreement also includes cross-licensing of patents owned by Roche Diagnostics. Roche, Ortho and Novartis further agreed to settle all litigation related to the licensed patents. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Roche Diagnostics offers a broad spectrum of immunoassays for hepatitis viruses and retroviruses. The licensing agreement for HCV immunoassays will enable Roche Professional Diagnostics to further expand its comprehensive product offering in infectious diseases and to become a major player in this field, having already a leading position in nucleic acid testing for hepatitis and retroviruses.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement that provides Roche Diagnostics worldwide access to HCV immunoassays. This agreement will strengthen Roche’s position in infectious disease diagnostics and will drive further growth of our immunoassay business worldwide," commented Dirk Ehlers, Head of Roche Professional Diagnostics.

HCV represents a wide-spread hepatitis virus which frequently results in chronic liver disease and represents a major cause of death through the development of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. HCV antibody tests are used for the primary diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection in patients with suspected liver disease. Positive Anti-HCV results trigger further diagnostic tests including nucleic acid testing for viral RNA. Prognosis of HCV infection can be improved by anti-viral treatment, specifically interferon, and can be monitored using diagnostic tests.

About Roche
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world's biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people's health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, a market leader in virology and active in other major therapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammation, metabolic disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. In 2006 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totalled 33.3 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 8.7 billion Swiss francs. Roche has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai, and invests approximately 7 billion Swiss francs a year in R&D. Worldwide, the Group employs about 75,000 people. Additional information is available on the Internet at www.roche.com.

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