Exact Sciences CEO Conroy Talks Growth, Foxconn, Startups & More

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we’ll bring colon cancer screening in line with breast- and cervical-cancer screening.

We’re confident that we will get there. How much time that takes, we don’t know.

X: So you haven’t put a specific date on the goal of having 8 million-plus patients screened with Cologuard annually?

KC: We have not.

X: Just because a doctor is able to order Cologuard for her patients doesn’t automatically mean that she knows about the tests, and its pros and cons when compared to a colonoscopy. How do you get the word out to more physicians?

KC: Digital education. Direct marketing to physicians. Bringing them to the physicians website that we have. You can really target primary care physicians with Web advertising. Our professional sales force—their job is to go and educate our current customers. It’s full-blown medical education, like you would see in any new healthcare product launch.

X: The computer screen a doctor looks at when considering different options for colorectal cancer screening seems like valuable real estate, from Exact’s perspective. Is the goal to make it possible to order Cologuard from the same place where a doctor is accustomed to ordering colonoscopies for patients?

KC: We’re about 10 to 15 percent penetrated into the [largest hospital systems] that have access within their electronic medical records software for ordering Cologuard. One of the biggest things that we can do over time is to get that to 100 percent.

X: So you’d say it’s important to Exact not only that physicians know about Cologuard, but also to make it easy for them to prescribe the test, regardless of what medication-ordering tools they use?

KC: Yes. That’s right.

X: Looking outside the world of Cologuard, what’s the latest on some of the other screening tests in Exact’s pipeline that the company is developing alongside the Mayo Clinic?

KC: Broadly speaking, liquid biopsy … looking primarily at blood but also other sample types, whether it’s urine or stool or even tissue to help better diagnose cancer in the early stages.

There will be data that will be published as part of Digestive Disease Week in the first week of June [on] a blood-based liver cancer test.

We are continuing to work on a lung cancer test that could be used potentially as a screening test.

And then the big idea is a multi-cancer test that would not only detect five, 10, 15 cancers—also, it would point to which part of the body to peer further [into], if possible. Do you do an upper GI scope or lower GI scope or PET scan or MRI? Is it breast cancer? Where do you go look if that multi-cancer test is positive? That’s the really big idea.

X: Exact was going to move to a new headquarters in downtown Madison, but scrapped that plan after a decision from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force caused some volatility in the company’s stock price. Even though Exact is now adding lab and office space near the company’s current headquarters, is there any part of you that wishes things had worked out with the planned move?

KC: You know, it’s interesting. It would’ve been great to be downtown. But once we made the decision that we weren’t going to be downtown, we never looked back.

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