Shares of Sequenom Inc. fell 69 percent yesterday on news that the company was delaying the rollout of its highly anticipated prenatal test for Down syndrome because the test’s validity is in question.
The company said the delay was prompted by “the discovery by company officials of employee mishandling of R&D test data and results.” Four employees were suspended and an inquiry will be conducted, said CEO Harry Stylli in an investor conference call after the market closed. He declined to specify what the employees were believed to have done, other than to say that “it relates to research and development test data and results.”
In earlier announcements, Sequenom officials had said their prenatal test in the first trimester of pregnancy could accurately diagnose fetal Down syndrome through the use of a simple maternal blood draw. They had estimated the worldwide market for such a test at between $3 billion and $5 billion.
In heavy after-hours trading, the company’s shares plunged to $4.55 from a close of $14.91 on Nasdaq.
Earlier posts here.
Company press release here.