Roche Diagnostics

Roche Diagnostics is a diagnostic division of Hoffmann-La Roche which manufactures equipment and reagents for research and medical diagnostic applications. Internally, it is organized into five major business areas: Roche Applied Science, Roche Professional Diagnostics, Roche Diabetes Care, Roche Molecular Diagnostics and Roche Tissue Diagnostics (Ventana).

All business areas except Roche Applied Science focus on health care applications, targeting either physicians, hospitals and clinics, or consumers. Applied Science targets research settings in academia and pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Since then, Roche has grown into one of the world's leading healthcare companies and one of the most important in Europe.

Year Event
1896-1920 Roche was founded during the Industrial Revolution .

Upon this background, Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche realised his plans for the industrial manufacture of drugs of uniform strength and quality.

1920 - 1952 Over a period of 32 year, Roche saw a steady growth of its international business. Not only was it the time of the first synthesis process for vitamin C, by 1938 vitamins were the company's mainstay.

Corporate growth took place in Europe, North and South America and the Far East, creating an ever larger trading and production network

1953 - 1965 Between 1950s and mid- 1960s pharmaceutical research at Roche was extremely diverse, with a portfolio ranging from antidepressants and antimicrobials to agents for cancer chemotherapy and inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases. To this day these have remained core therapeutics areas, but they were to be eclipsed for a time by development in the field of tranquillisers. Roche scientists had come across the benzodiazepine class which proved to be the base for many milestones drugs to be marketed over the years to come.

During this period Roche was also busily pursuing a course of acquisitions, entering new business fields like flavours and fragrances

1965 - 1978 Propelled by the success of the benzodiazepines, Roche branched out into markets spanning the whole spectrum of health care, with a large variety of ventures. Bioelectronic departments developed electronic medical instruments; physicists at Roche helped to develop the liquid crystal displays now found in countless watches, calculators, computers, automobiles and television sets. Roche invested into plant protection, reflecting the growing involvement in the agrochemical sector. Both in Switzerland as well as the United States, development teams were assembled to work on diagnostic tests and analytical systems, thus establishing the diagnostic arm of Roche.

This period was also the starting point of Roche's involvement in basic biomedical research, creating the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in Nutley and the Basel Institute for Immunology.

The time saw also negative impact on Roche - the major chemical accident that occurred in Seveso and a product pricing dispute in Great Britain.

1978 - 2001 The move towards creating separate business units, begun in the mid- 70s, continued and resulted in the creation of autonomous divisions. Accounting and reporting practices were standardised groupwide, and comprehensive reorganisation, rationalisation and modernisation measures were implemented in all areas. The sale of Maag in 1990 and the spin-off of Givaudan in 2000 left Roche with three divisions: pharmaceuticals, vitamins and fine chemicals, diagnostics.

A wide range of pharmaceutical products were introduced over the years to come, and some represented real medical breakthroughs.

The acquisition in 1990 of a majority interest in Genentech, a leader in the field of genetic engineering, and the takeover of Syntex Corporation, a strongly research-oriented company, were part of a strategy for strengthening Roche's position in the global healthcare market. With the purchase of Nicholas, a producer of non-prescription medicines, Roche strengthens its portfolio of over-the-counter medicines, an increasingly important area because of the growing trend towards self-medication. By acquiring Boehringer Mannheim, Roche became the world leader in the area of diagnostic market in terms of a unique range of innovative products, depth and breadth of technologies as well as overall geographical presence.

2001 - Present The alliance with Chugai in Japan creates a foothold in today's second largest healthcare market. The acquisition of Amira by Roche Diagnostics and the separation of the Vitamins business reflects Roche's concentration on pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche has also acquired Allied Medical.

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