Shares of Swiss drugmaker Roche up 11% after FDA approval

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A photo showing the logo of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche in Basel.

SEBASTIEN BOZON | AFP | Getty Images

Shares of Swiss diagnostics and pharmaceutical giant Roche soared 11% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency authorization for their COVID-19 test.

These highly automated tests, which the company says are able to provide results in 3-½ hours, can be run on Roche’s fully-automated machines which are already installed in hospitals and laboratories across the U.S. and around the world.

Roche was the first company to supply tests to diagnose the coronavirus in China. The drug giant was able to lean on its experience dealing with the SARS virus outbreak which also originated in China. Speaking to CNBC in January, CEO Severin Schwan said the company’s focus was to bring the necessary diagnostic platforms and test to the point of care.

Testing for the virus is one of the primary concerns in the United States at this stage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of just over 11,000 specimens have been tested since January. By contrast, a total of almost 30,000 people have been tested for the virus in the United Kingdom, while nearly 20,000 people are being tested for the virus everyday in South Korea.  

This approval for Roche means millions of tests a month will be available to help boost capacity for diagnosis of the flu-like virus. 

Beyond diagnostics, Roche has also been involved in the fight against coronavirus complications. Earlier this month, China approved use of the Swiss drugmaker’s anti-inflammatory drug Actemra to treat patients with aggressive immune reactions to the virus.

Stocks in Europe rose across the board on Friday after experiencing the worst one-day fall on record. 

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