Roche receives Health Canada approval for new test

Drug maker Roche Canada, which employs hundreds at its Mississauga pill-making plant, is getting Health Canada approval for a new test for an infectious virus common in organ transplants.

The Health Canada decision likely won’t add new jobs in Mississauga, where the Swiss-owned multinational has already grown the workforce to about 700 with a major new expansion announced last year. But it should benefit the company’s testing division and national headquarters in the Montreal area, which employ 450 people.

Roche announced Friday that Health Canada had given the go-ahead for the new test for patients with cytomegalovirus, a herpes-like infection also known as CMV.

The company’s new test assesses a patient’s viral load of CMV, the most common infection in organ transplant recipients. The test is standardized to World Health Organization regulations.

“The first CMV test is a great clinical innovation that will definitely improve patient care for solid organ transplant recipients,” said Ian Parfrement, president and general manager of Roche Diagnostics Canada.

The new test is registered under the Cobas AmpliPrep and Cobas TaqMan brand and is meant to detect CMV disease and monitor a patient’s response to treatment.

In transplant cases, CMV can have symptoms similar to infectious mononucleosis with fever or in more serious cases, lung and gastrointestinal troubles. Between 50 per cent to 80 per cent of people in North American can become infected with CMV.

Roche Canada is part of Mississauga’s “Pill Hill” biotech complex of drug companies, which employ about 25,000 people and are a key growth engine for the city.

Roche Canada was founded in 1931 and bases its pharmaceutical division on Meadowpine Boulevard in western Mississauga. Its diagnostic testing division is headquartered in Laval, just north of Montreal.

In the summer of 2011, the company announced plans to invest more than $190 million over five years to grow its Mississauga operations and create a global drug development site. The company aimed to add about 200 new specialized jobs to manage clinical trial research on a number of medicines.

Roche is the world’s largest biotechnology company and employs 80,000 people worldwide. It is also the global leader in in-vitro testing.

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