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Hologic halfway to 3-D mammography sales goal

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | July 31, 2012
Hologic is nearly halfway to its goal of selling 500 to 700 units of its breast tomosynthesis system by the end of the next fiscal year as demand for the 3-D mammography technology begins to outstrip interest in traditional 2-D units, the company said in an earnings call yesterday.

Hologic, which makes breast imaging systems and diagnostic equipment, is 45 percent towards its goal of shipping Selenia Dimensions 3-D mammography systems, Hologic CEO and president Robert Cascella said during the call.

With backlogs of units expected to ship in the next fiscal quarter also considered, Hologic said it's 60 percent toward its two-year goal. Hologic's fiscal year ends Sept. 29.

The Selenia Dimensions is the first breast tomo unit cleared for sale in the U.S. The device works by spinning in an arc over the breast, taking X-ray snapshots, which are reconstructed into a 3-D image. Some researchers think the technology could help radiologists spot cancers that would be obscured in 2-D images. The Food and Drug Administration approved the device in spring 2011.

3-D demand accelerates, but there's a backlog

"As noted last quarter, we started to see demand for 2-D eclipsing demand for 3-D systems," Cascella said on the call.

However, he added that the company is still coping with a backlog both because the 3-D systems take longer to install and because most customers want their radiologists trained on the device before installation. Cascella said they were working on increasing physician training options over the next few quarters.

So far, units are installed in 45 states, he said.

The company said several large studies on tomosynthesis -- some involving thousands of patients -- are expected to be published by the end of the year. The publications could help Hologic in its efforts to get reimbursement determination for the device, which it expects during the first half of 2013, according to a note from investment bank Leerink Swann.

"Positive results from these studies could help drive accelerated tomo adoption trends and/or bolster HOLX's prospects for securing 3D tomo reimbursement," Richard Newitter wrote in an e-mail to investors on Tuesday.

The tomo news came as the Bedford, Mass.-based company released its financial results for the third quarter, ending June 23, on Monday. Hologic reported $470.2 million in sales for the quarter, up about 4 percent from $451.1 million in sales from the same period last year.

Its breast health division, which includes mammo units, breast biopsy and MRI coils, took in $211.5 million in revenue during the past quarter, up 3.1 percent from third quarter 2011, but down 3.3 percent from the previous quarter.

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