Pacific Edge is a cancer diagnostic company specialising in the discovery and commercialisation of diagnostic and prognostic tests for better detection and management of cancer. In the 2021 TIN Report the company came surging back into the Absolute IT Supreme Scale-Ups list registering just over 100% growth in FY21 and lifting its revenue over $10m for the first time.
FY21 was a year of high achievement for the NZX-listed company – now dual-listed on the ASX – with the delivery of two significant milestones: a commercial agreement with Kaiser Permanente and gaining coverage from the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for Cxbladder Monitor and Detect.
In FY22 Pacific Edge increased revenue by 49% despite a global decline in test volumes and a lack of face-to-face meeting opportunities critical to sales success. It continues the development and commercialisation of its range of Cxbladder bladder cancer tests globally, through its wholly owned central laboratories in New Zealand and the USA.
In January this year the company appointed Dr Peter Meintjes as its new CEO. We caught up with Peter to discuss his vision for the business moving forward.
Congratulations on your appointment as CEO at the beginning of this year – what are your key takeaways from the first eight months at Pacific Edge?
Thank you – it’s a privilege to be leading a patient-focused, world-leading oncology diagnostics company in Pacific Edge.
Having reviewed the whole business with a critical eye for what’s working and what’s not, the key takeaway is that Pacific Edge has a great foundation from which to drive commercial success. In a complex and fast-moving environment, with lots of potential for distraction, having a clear focus is essential and, for us, that is developing products that address unmet clinical needs throughout the bladder cancer patient care pathway. With the capital available from last year’s capital raise, our company has the resources necessary to drive the adoption of Cxbladder in all our major markets.
During the annual shareholder meeting it was mentioned that you have a set of clear priorities moving forward – can you provide a bit more detail around these?
As a company, we’re focused on the early diagnosis and better management of urothelial cancer, a subtype of bladder cancer representing ~90% of cases. The disease is a major global healthcare challenge, with more than 550,000 annual active cases leading to over 200,000 deaths each year. To help address this global challenge, Pacific Edge developed Cxbladder, a suite of non-invasive genomic biomarker tests collected from a simple urine sample that can detect urothelial cancer early for patients suspected of, or previously diagnosed and treated for urothelial cancer.
In regard to our priorities, we have updated our strategy to focus on value creation in three major areas, Research and Innovation, Clinical Evidence Generation and Market Execution. Firstly, our research and innovation helps to build long-term future for Pacific Edge by improving existing products and developing new products that address an unmet clinical need that we have identified through our Key Opinion Leaders, market research and our own team. Secondly, our clinical evidence generation program builds the evidence for the performance of our tests, and the evidence for the utility of our tests, highlighting to physicians, patients and insurers how and when Cxbladder should be used in clinical practice. Finally, as we already have established reimbursement for our products in the USA, we need to focus on near-term execution – adoption of Cxbladder by new clinicians, retention of existing clinicians and revenue generation through various market access initiatives. We are expanding our direct sales force, our marketing activities, our key opinion leader engagement through our medical affairs team, and market access activities.
Pacific Edge is still in ‘growth mode’ – how do you balance driving revenue and at the same time managing cost prudently?
Digitization and digital innovation is a key development and trend in healthcare – how has Pacific Edge benefitted from that as a diagnostic company and how do you continue to stay relevant?
Digital technology underpins almost all daily activities in our modern society – focusing on it as a healthcare business is a must. For us, it enables four major areas of value. The first, is the hardware and IT systems that support our business, the second is software applications that drive efficiency and effectiveness in our sales, customer services or lab operations, and the third is specialised software development and statistical analyses that build our products and validate our clinical evidence. The fourth, and I’m saving the best till last here, is the external integrations we have with customers that underpin both the customer and patient experience.
Telemedicine, allowing physicians to reach patients living in rural areas and those that are unable to travel for health concerns, is a great example of how digital technologies can enable a better patient experience. Coupled with the ability to place an online order for our in-home sampling system, we have been able to reduce the need for in-clinic visits among those patients being monitored for recurrent disease. This was particularly valuable in the pandemic, but it has established a new standard of care and is certainly here to stay.
The ability to integrate the ordering and delivery of Cxbladder results into electronic medical record (EMR) systems, rather than having clinicians rely on manual ordering, is another example. Kaiser Permanente, the largest integrated healthcare provider in the US and a Pacific Edge customer, is our marquis case. Kaiser is currently integrating the ordering and delivery of Cxbladder results into their system, so that clinicians will be prompted to order a Cxbladder test for every patient that matches a clinical type. With this integrated approach, all patients with the same diagnosis will be managed the same way, and results will be delivered directly to the patient’s EMR accessible to both patient and clinician.
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