Exact Sciences stock bounced around Thursday after the Madison company reported its financial results for the third quarter, closing at $7.15 a share, down $1.10, 13.3 percent below Wednesday’s close at $8.25 a share.
During the day’s trading, Exact stock sold for as much as $9.93, and dipped as low as $6.81. Nearly 13.8 million shares traded hands, more than four times the average daily volume over the last three months.
Exact reported its net loss for the three months that ended Sept. 30 widened to $42.9 million, or 45 cents a share, compared with a loss of $32.1 million, or 39 cents a share, for the same period last year as the company has pushed forward to familiarize its Cologuard cancer test to physicians, insurance companies and the public.
Revenues were $12.6 million, as the company received 34,000 completed Cologuard tests, up from 21,000 in the second quarter.
Exact’s stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer was prescribed by 21,000 physicians during the third quarter, an increase of 42 percent from the second quarter, the company said. Federal officials approved the test for commercial sale in August 2014.
“We remain pleased with the growing traction that Cologuard is gaining,” CEO Kevin Conroy said in a written statement.
Exact also reported results of a couple of studies showing support for the use of Cologuard.
A study conducted by Case Western Reserve showed 75 percent of prospective patients found Cologuard “more suitable” than a colonoscopy. Of those who had a colonoscopy and also used Cologuard, 84 percent said they would be likely or somewhat likely to have another Cologuard screening, if a doctor recommended it.
Also, a study of Alaska Native people showed Cologuard detected all 10 cases of colorectal cancer among those tested and found 52 percent of significant precancerous lesions in people between the ages of 40 and 85.
Exact stock took a big hit earlier this month after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a draft report recommending Cologuard as an alternative cancer test, rather than one of the top options for screening.
In a conference call with analysts Thursday, Conroy said Exact plans to ask the task force to put Cologuard on a par with other colorectal cancer screening tests.
He said he will cite the recent studies, and will add two more arguments — that Cologuard is a “superior” screening strategy when used every three years, rather than every year, and that it is the only colon cancer screening test with U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, “a uniform guarantee of quality.”
In response to an analyst’s question, though, Conroy conceded it is “unlikely” the USPSTF will budge from the draft report. That’s only happened once since 2010, Conroy said. “It may be unfortunate but it’s reality,” he said.
As a result, it may take “longer than we otherwise would have expected with clearer guidelines” to convince insurance companies to pay for Cologuard, he said.
“But our goal is to win them over on the facts and the science and the benefits compared to the harm,” Conroy said. “We think this will occur over time.”