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Sales of SARS-CoV-2 tests at other IVD companies, including Roche Diagnostics and Danaher’s lab businesses also report declines in COVID-19 test revenue

Clinical laboratory leaders and pathologists seeking a marker that the COVID-19 pandemic has passed may have it in the plunge in SARS-CoV-2 test revenue during the second quarter at Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Illinois.

COVID-19 test sales in Q2 2023 at Abbott fell a “whopping” 89% as people try to “move on” from the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Developer of the BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 antigen self-test, Abbott saw its COVID-19 sales revenue decline from $2.3 billion in Q2 2022 to $263 million in the quarter ending June 30, the Chicago Tribune noted. 

The decline was expected by Abbott. Nonetheless, the company will likely sell more than $1 billion in COVID-19 tests by the end of this year—business it did not have in 2019.

Abbott lowered its forecast for COVID-19 sales in 2023 to $1.3 billion, down from $1.5 billion, MedTech Dive reported.

“We decided to bring our COVID-19 number down a couple of hundred million dollars, because we’re seeing—as the public health emergency ended—a little bit of a decline in testing,” said Abbott’s Chairman and CEO Robert Ford during an earnings call transcribed by Motley Fool. “So, we’ll see how that’s going to play out in Q4 (2023), the first quarter we will see an endemic respiratory season.” Clinical laboratories that performed high numbers of SARS-CoV-2 test during the pandemic will likely experience similar declines in test volumes. [Photo copyright: Abbott Laboratories.)

Overall, Abbott Has ‘Good Recovery’

COVID-19-related diagnostics was just part of the financial report by Abbott, which also develops other clinical laboratory tests, clinical laboratory analyzers and automation, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional products such as infant formula.

Abbott said in a news release that its sales—driven by base business performance—were $10 billion in Q2.

“We have had a really, really good recovery here as the health systems are opening up, and are seeing routine testing come back,” said Abbott’s Chairman and CEO Robert Ford during the earnings call.

Here are diagnostics financial results for Q2 2023 as compared to Q2 2022, according to the news release:

  • Diagnostic sales fell to $2.3 billion from $4.2 billion.
  • Core laboratory sales were flat at $1.2 billion.
  • Molecular sales plunged to $141 million from $212 million.
  • Rapid diagnostics plummeted to $741 million from $2.7 billion.

As need for COVID-19 testing contracts, Abbott is focusing on research and development of assays that may be “missing on the menus,” Ford said during the earnings call.

“We’ve been working on expanding the menu in molecular and point-of-care. One of the most exciting assays that the team has developed for point-of-care is a rapid test for traumatic brain injury,” he added.

COVID-19 Revenue Falls at Roche, Danaher

Abbott is not the only in vitro diagnostics (IVD) manufacturer to report a recent significant decline in demand for COVID-19 products.

Another sign the major wave of the pandemic has passed is the dramatic fall in COVID-19 product revenue at Roche to 0.4 billion Swiss Francs (CHF) (US$460 million) from 3.1 billion CHF (US$3.5 billion) in the first half of 2022, according to a Roche news release.

The Basel, Switzerland company—reporting on six months of financial results—said its Roche Group base business increased 8% and Diagnostics Division base business rose 6% in 2023, as compared to the first six months last year.

Diagnostics Division sales overall fell 23% to 7 billion CHF (US$8 billion) from 9.9 billion CHF (US$11.3 billion), Roche said.

Here are more first-half of 2023 financial results at Roche as compared to the same period in 2022:

  • Core lab: 3.9 billion CHF ($US 4.4 billion), up 10% from 3.8 billion CHF (US$4.3 billion).
  • Molecular lab: 1.1 billion CHF (US$1.2 billion), down 40% from 1.9 billion CHF (US$2.1 billion).
  • Diabetes care: 723 million CHF (US$831.7 million), down 5% from 832 million CHF (US$957 million).
  • Pathology lab: 687 million CHF (US$790 million), up 12% from 652 million CHF (US$750 million).
  • Point of care: 635 million CHF (US$730.6 million), plummeted 74% from 2.6 billion CHF (US$2.9 billion).

“In the first half of 2023, sales in the base business of both of our divisions (diagnostics and pharmaceuticals) grew strongly, largely offsetting the impact of declining demand for COVID-19 products,” said Roche CEO Thomas Schinecker, PhD, in the news release.

COVID-19 test revenue also impacted financial results at Danaher Corporation, the Washington, D.C.-based parent company of Beckman Coulter Diagnostics, Cepheid, and Leica Biosystems.

Revenue was down in Q2 7.5% to $7.1 billion as compared to $7.7 billion in the same quarter last year, the company said in a news release.

COVID-19 took a toll on sales of 9% in the quarter as compared to Q2 2022, according to a Danaher earnings release presentation.

As to plans for growth, Cepheid is adding assays for Group A Streptococcal and hospital-acquired infections to the menu of the GeneXpert System which performs COVID-19 testing, said Danaher CEO Rainer Blair in remarks to analysts during an earnings call prepared by the Weekly Transcript.

COVID-19 May Linger as IVD Companies Refresh Menus

As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, healthcare providers will continue to test patients for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

But it also appears that IVD companies are aiming to keep their instruments—which ran full tilt performing COVID-19 testing during the pandemic—of high value to clinical laboratories by developing new tests for possible inclusion on labs’ testing menus.

—Donna Marie Pocius

Related Information:

Abbott’s COVID-19 Test Sales Dive by Nearly 90%

Abbott Q2 Net Profit Falls as Weaker COVID-19 Test Sales Drag on Revenue

Abbott Laboratories Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Abbott Reports Second Quarter 2023 Results, Increases Outlook for Underlying Base Business

Abbott Receives FDA Clearance for First Commercially Available Lab-based Blood Test to Help Evaluate Concussion

Roche Reports Strong Growth in Both Divisions’ Base Business; Group Sales Reflect Declining Demand for COVID-19 Products

Danaher Reports Second Quarter 2023 Results

Danaher Earnings Presentation

Danaher Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript