Roche to Expand in Park After Acquisition

Boehringer-Mannheim Parent Company to Add Facilities, Jobs

Completing a transaction that began last May, the Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche has received Federal Trade Commission approval for its acquisition of Boehringer-Mannheim and its parent company, Corange Ltd. The transaction had previously been approved by regulators in Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the European Union.

The purchase, for a price of approximately $10.2 billion, allows Roche to acquire both Boehringer-Mannheim and 84 percent of the share capital of DePuy, Inc., a leading manufacturer of orthopedic products.

Hacienda will serve as a "Center of Excellence" for the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) program of the combined company's new diagnostic group, to be called Roche Diagnostics. The new organization will be the largest diagnostic firm in the world, with estimated revenues of over $2.3 billion. Roche's total sales revenues were over $10 billion in 1996.

Plans for Hacienda

Roche has plans to create a "Center of Excellence" for its molecular diagnostics program in Hacienda. Laboratories and offices in the company's existing Hacienda facility will be renovated this summer to allow for gradual relocation of a number of departments from existing company facilities in New Jersey. Some personnel from Roche Molecular Systems in Alameda may also be relocated to Hacienda.

Roche's plans specifically call for the relocation of the company's diagnostics development, finance, marketing, regulatory affairs and administrative functions by early next year. Up to 150 people could relocate to the park.

Roche also has plans to create new facilities in Hacienda.

"We will initiate construction of a new dedicated PCR manufacturing facility and enlarged R&D laboratories at the Pleasanton site, with a target completion date of the middle of the year 2000," says Paula Evangelista, Roche spokesperson.

A Leader in PCR Technology

PCR is a molecular biology technique that was developed during the early 1980's. The technique targets a specific piece of DNA and then uses that piece as a template to produce billions of copies. From a single DNA fragment, PCR can produce over one billion copies of this fragment in three hours.

The technique produces yields large enough for the rapid, reliable detection of specific types of DNA or RNA. PCR has a broad range of scientific applications and is widely used in the medical field for the diagnosis of infectious agents, genetic disease, cancer and other conditions.

One diagnostic tool produced by Roche using this technique is Amplicor HIV-1 Monitor, the first commercial test for determining viral load in the blood of HIV-positive patients.

Amplicor provides a highly reliable measure of the course of HIV infection and makes it possible to use drugs such as Roche's protease inhibitor, Invirase, more effectively.

Roche also holds patents for key enzymes used in PCR technology.

With the acquisition of Boehringer Mannheim, Roche offerings include a broad range of innovative products and state-of-the-art technologies, particularly for the clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, diabetes monitoring and patient care sectors.

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