Well, not exactly love, but care more about them, at least? This is what Daniel O’Day, the newly installed head of Roche’s diagnostics division, asked an audience of analysts attending Roche's annual results meeting in London last week.
Unlike most of his pre-decessors (including, most recently, Juergen Schwiezer), O’Day has apparently spent more years in pharma than in diagnostics. He has held various positions within Roche Pharma since 1987, before becoming head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics in the US in 2006. This dual background in both sides of the business means O'Day could be the man to raise the profile of Dx.
Critically, he also has the backing of other Roche execs, who believe the “pull” from clinicians demanding personalized-medicine tests will make it an attractive, i.e. lucrative, business to be in.
Okay, so many companies, including Roche, have said, or at least believed, that for years. But it probably helps that Roche's CEO Severin Schwan worked for a decade in the diagnostics side of the business (and before that in finance), before taking the top-spot in June 2008.
At the moment, the problem with diagnostics and instruments in general is their rapid commoditization, as laboratories continually demand higher-throughput screens at ever-lower costs.
Within Roche, having pharma working closely with diagnostics on personalized medicine can apparently pay dividends for the instrument guys--in the sense that pharma can help them get their way from the corporate powers-that-be. For instance, the company recently invested in a new technology platform because the pharma side wanted it. Diagnostics, meanwhile, was having difficulty justifying the expense.