- Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck KGaA will be the sole supplier of a group of DNA-sequencing products Roche acquired last year, the companies announced Thursday.
- The decision amplifies a pre-existing deal Roche had with life sciences company Sigma-Aldrich that was extended to Merck KGaA when it acquired Sigma for $17 billion back in 2014. That agreement gave Sigma-Aldrich distribution rights to Roche's biochemical reagents.
- Merck KGaA will now also be responsible for distributing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and real-time PCR – called qPCR – enzymes Roche snagged from its buyout of enzyme-maker Kapa Biosystems in 2015. Notably, Merck KGaA will not supply the products in Brazil, Japan and the U.S.
PCR is a method used to isolate and multiply pieces of DNA, and relies on a specific set of enzymes capable of synthesizing genetic material at high temperatures. The technique's ability to make millions of copies of a single protein or stretch of DNA — often in a short span of time and at a low cost — has proved a vital tool both for pharmaceutical research and endeavors like the Human Genome Project.
"This agreement represents a powerful combination of Kapa's high-quality PCR and qPCR products with the excellent e-commerce and distribution channels of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany," Roche's Head of Molecular Diagnostics Uwe Oberlander said of the expanded Merck KGaA partership in a Dec. 1 statement.
Financial terms of the updated deal were not disclosed.
The announcement came just one day before Roche revealed it was expanding another distribution agreement with Germantown, Md.-based Senseonics Holdings. Roche initially entered the pact in May to supply and market the medical technology company's continuous glucose monitoring system for diabetes patients.
That original deal allowed Roche to distribute the system in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. On Dec. 2, the companies said the agreement would extend to all of Africa, Europe and the Middle, with the exception of Finland, Israel and Scandinavia.