Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Business

Spotlight Roche: A History of Diagnostics from Cholera to COVID


Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the largest biotech companies in the world, providing state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments for serious diseases, including COVID-19. Speaking of which, over the last two years, the firm has delivered a world-leading portfolio of diagnostic tests for COVID as R&D teams worked tirelessly to expand the range of tests available while also continuing development on additional tests for cancer and other diseases.

Last year, Roche marked its 125th anniversary, taking the opportunity to point out the current pandemic is not the first time a pathogen has emerged to present challenges to society. Indeed, Roche was founded on such a challenge. In the summer of 1896, a young man named Fritz Hoffmann had begun work as a merchant in Hamburg, Germany, when cholera broke out. He returned to home to Basel and built a company that would deliver large quantities of effective medicine of consistent quality–a breakthrough concept at the time.

Rapid antigen test, credit: Roche

Since then, Roche’s vision has been continuous reinvention guided by scientific progress, a principle that has led to decades of innovations. In the 1960s, for example, researchers at Roche’s Polish lab discovered two benzodiazepines, Valium and Librium, which became critical treatments for anxiety and insomnia. Today Roche is in development on over a dozen medicines to treat neurological disorders, including Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases, an area where it expects to see big advances in the next 20 years. In the future, Roche aims to lead the industry in Personalized Healthcare, a new vision for elevating care to include early detection, a shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach to personalized, flexible treatments that evolve with patient needs, and tearing down social barriers to healthcare.

Chip-based immunological multimarker assay for personalized healthcare, credit: Roche

According to the firm’s most recent annual report, in effort to advance digitization and achieve medical advances faster, Roche continues to increase its R&D investment at a rate that exceeds that of any other healthcare company worldwide. In 2021, Roche reported investing about 22% of sales in R&D. The key to this Knowledge Leader’s status as an innovation powerhouse is a view toward taking risks today that might not appear lucrative in the short term but can create sustainable value in the long term. Last week, Roche announced it had sent to Ukraine hundreds of thousands of medicines and diagnostics and established special direct lines of contact for patients and providers in need of support from Ukraine.

Production lab, credit: Roche

As of 12/31/21, Roche was not held in the Knowledge Leaders Strategy.

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