Bay Area Genetic Testing Firm Counsyl Lays Off Oncology Sales Team

Bay Area Genetic Testing Firm Counsyl Lays Off Oncology Sales Team January 9, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO – After announcing in May 2016 its entry into the oncology market, DNA-testing company Counsyl is shutting down the unit and laying off 24 sales positions, about 5 percent of its workforce.

In a statement released Jan. 6, Counsyl said closing out the newly-formed oncology business was part of the company’s plan to strengthen its focus on women’s health. In the statement Counsyl said women’s health concerns is the company’s core business. In an interview later that day with Med City News, Ramji Srinivasan, Counsyl’s chief executive officer, said having a single sales force will allow the company to “operate more efficiently and offer providers multiple different tests simultaneously, saving them time and improving clinical decision making for their patients.”

“By consolidating these teams, we will also be able to channel more resources into Women’s Health R&D, so that we can continue to innovate and deliver the best screening products on the market,” Srinivasan said in a statement to Med City News.

In its announcement, Counsyl said it has launched some upgrades to its flagship screening platform, the Family Prep Screen. Upgrades to the screening platform include an intelligent panel design that maximizes coverage for the most prevalent serious and profound genetic conditions, the company said in its statement. The new upgrades should be available in the second quarter of 2017.

Although the company has terminated the oncology sales force, Counsyl said it will continue to develop and support its Inherited Cancer Screen test for preventive screening applications. The company’s Inherited Cancer Screen can test for up to 36 genes associated with an increased risk of more than 10 cancer types such as breast, ovarian, pancreatic, colon, prostate, and melanoma.

For about the past year, there have been rumors that Counsyl was looking to take the company public, particularly after raising more than $100 million over the course of multiple financing rounds. Counsyl’s most recent financing round was in 2014, when the company took in $28 million. Counsyl has been backed financially by entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who is known for backing PayPal and Facebook, among others.

In May, the company launched the cancer unit to “help patients and their families understand their risk of various inherited forms of cancer, so that they can make proactive decisions about treatment and preventative care,” the company said.

In April 2016, the company terminated 27 employees, about 5 percent of its staff, as part of a restructuring plan. The positions cut were in sales support, marketing, design, and engineering. Counsyl employs less than 400.

Counsyl has been a rapidly growing company behind the early success of its DNA testing for diseases. Some of the products the company provides allows couples who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant to screen for potential genetic diseases. Counsyl provides services to screen for diseases where early detection will make a difference in the way individuals and physicians approach treatment therapies. Counsyl has screened more than 700,000 patients and served over 10,000 health care professionals, the company said.

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