Oct 7, 201502:08 PMVan Lines
with Joe Vanden Plas
Alders, it’s no time to jump off Exact Sciences’ ledge
(page 1 of 2)
The Exact Sciences option for Judge Doyle Square was placed in doubt Tuesday by a federal task force, but it’s still too early for local leaders to join investors in jumping off the ledge.
While much of the focus was understandably on the 46% drop in the company’s stock price, it would be wise for opponents to keep their powder dry until we see the impact on more telling company metrics like sales, the level of Medicare reimbursement, and inclusion in health care quality measures.
Shares of Exact Sciences’ stock sunk like a boulder Tuesday after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) did not classify Cologuard, the company’s non-invasive test for colorectal cancer, as one of the main recommended screening tests. Instead, the task force named Cologuard as an alternative test that’s useful in select clinical circumstances as it issued a draft report updating its guidelines for colorectal cancer screening.
The USPSTF’s draft report, basically a preliminary finding that must still be finalized, came one week after the Madison Common Council approved a development agreement on the Judge Doyle Square project that includes $46.7 million in public investment.
It wasn’t exactly what Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy expected to hear, and opponents of the company’s $200 million development proposal for Judge Doyle Square were quick to say, “I told you so,” in reference to Exact Sciences’ long-term business prospects.
Not so fast.
There is still a chance the task force’s preliminary recommendation could be reversed before the final recommendation is made. Even if it isn’t, Cologuard still received some validation from the task force following an exhaustive review, and it still has Food and Drug Administration approval, the validation of the American Cancer Society, which has included Cologuard in its own colorectal cancer screening guidelines, and until further notice, the market approval of health care insurers, physicians, and patients.
FDA approval, announced in October 2014, came after the results of a 90-site, 10,000-patient trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March of that year.
None of that was wiped out by the task force’s draft report, which is the first update of colorectal cancer screening guidelines since 2008. In the report, alternative tests are a newly created category that includes Cologuard and CT colonography, which is also known as a “virtual colonoscopy” that uses low-dose radiation CT (computed tomography) scanning to produce an internal view of the colon, which otherwise is only seen in a more invasive procedure that I won’t describe here. So even as an alternative test, Cologuard is in pretty good company.