Epigenomics runs out of road

Precisely seven years ago it was possible to consider Epigenomics and Exact Sciences alongside one another, as two companies heading to the US FDA with colorectal cancer tests whose clinical data showed them to be less accurate than the cheaper standard of care. Over the following years, however, their fortunes have diverged sharply. Aided by progressively larger acquisitions, Exact is now a top-10 diagnostics company making strides in everything from precision medicine to pan-cancer liquid biopsy, while Epigenomics today admitted that it had come to the end of the road and put itself up for sale. The German group blamed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ refusal, in October 2020, to reimburse its Epi proColon blood test. An earlier attempt by the Chinese private equity firm Cathay Fortune to take the group private floundered in August 2017 after failing to gain enough support from Epigenomics’ shareholders. Perhaps this time those investors will admit that the company has no real future as an independent concern.

The contrasting fates of two colorectal cancer test developers 
Company Exact Sciences Epigenomics
Test name Cologuard Epi ProColon
Pivotal trial sensitivity 92% 71%
Pivotal trial specificity 87% 81%
Adcom date March 27, 2014 March 26, 2014
Adcom risk-benefit vote 10 to 0 in favour 5 to 4 in favour
US approval date  August 11, 2014 April 12, 2016; had been rejected twice
Current market cap $22.0bn $17.6m
Forecast 2026 test revenues $3.5bn $58m
Source: EvaluateMedTech, FDA & company releases.

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