Health: Are Uscom’s sales *really* up on coronavirus?
Health & Biotech
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Two more coronavirus infections were released to the ASX in the last 24 hours, but while one was bad, it turns out the other wasn’t part of the epidemic at all.
Uscom (ASX:UCM) says sales of its haemodynamic monitoring device in China, which records how blood flows through the heart and blood vessels and usually used to manage sepsis, have risen over the last five weeks.
But it was forced to admit this morning that the headline-grabbing coronavirus wasn’t the reason.
Last night the company strongly suggested that a 124 per cent increase in orders in the first five weeks of 2020 was due to a coronavirus boost in sales, saying “some devices [are] being specifically installed for the monitoring of hospital patients diagnosed with coronavirus”.
After being pinged by the ASX, it was forced to admit the increased orders were from current distributors.
Furthermore, none were from new companies nor do these figures — 38 sales up from 17 in January and February last year — relate at all to a new protocol issued by China on how to deal with coronavirus.
Last week China issued new protocols to deal with the coronavirus and these included a recommendation to do haemodynamic monitoring of severe and critically severe cases.
Uscom is lifting manufacturing of the devices by “121 per cent on 10-year average outputs” to meet the demand.
The bad news came from one of the biggest biotechs on the ASX, Cochlear (ASX:COH).
Cochlear is one of the few Australian biotechs that has ventured into China and successfully maintained a presence there.
The $14bn company said guidance for underlying profit in fiscal 2020 would be $270-290m, down 9-13 per cent (although up 2-9 per cent on last year).
The reason: Because hospitals across greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, are deferring surgeries, including cochlear implants, to limit the risk of infection from the coronavirus.
But CEO Dig Howitt says the same thing happened during the SARS epidemic and that was followed by a rush of surgeries as hospitals got stuck into the backlog.
Sexual health and oncology biotech Starpharma (ASX:SPL) received a $US3m ($4.5m) milestone payment from AstraZeneca following the successful dosing of the first patient in the phase 1 clinical trial of AZD0466 in December. The trial is being conducted at multiple sites in the US and will recruit patients with a range of cancers.
Starpharma is eligible to receive development, launch and sales milestones of up to $US124m, plus tiered royalties on net sales for this initial product, and $US93.3m for each subsequent qualifying product.
Medical data firm Opyl (ASX:OPL) has signed a two-year collaboration agreement with huumun, a sales, marketing and medical communications company. The deal is to help Opyl find more clients and better sell its social media services into pharmaceutical companies.