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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com The Best in Massachusetts Business
GROWTH
1.  C Y T Y C   C O R P .

Cytyc surges on success of Pap test

Grabs market lead after a slow start

    Globe 100
Growth:
  1. Cytyc
  2. Polymedica Corp.
  3. Perini
  4. Tweeter
  5. Boston Private Financial

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No Massachusetts company saw its sales and profits surge more in the past two years than Cytyc, a medical device company selling a new kind of Pap test to screen for cervical cancer.

The Boxborough company in 1996 began chipping away at the Pap smear -- a test that had reigned unrivaled for nearly 50 years and had spared thousands of women the ravages of cancer.

Progress came slowly at first. By the end of 1999, three years after the company's ThinPrep Pap test was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Cytyc had gained only 19 percent of the market.

But 2000 was a bang-up year, followed by another successful year in 2001. The company now holds nearly 65 percent of the market. Sales grew an average of 65 percent a year over the past two years, and profits by an average of nearly 50 percent a year.

"The first 20 percent of the market is very difficult," said chief executive Patrick Sullivan. "From 20 to 80 percent market share, adoption tends to be quicker. Then, the final 20 percent becomes difficult again."

With the ThinPrep Pap test well on its way to dominating the market, Cytyc began looking for products to drive future growth. Last year, the company bought Pro-Duct Health for $167.5 million to gain a new technology to screen for breast cancer.

Known as ductal lavage, the technology is approved to screen women at risk for developing breast cancer or those with the disease. Sullivan said 5 million women nationwide fall into those categories, a market potentially worth $1.5 billion to $4 billion.

"It could be bigger than the Pap test, and it's an area where we believe we have the ability to make a real difference," Sullivan said.

The company hopes this quarter to complete its acquisition of another company, Digene. The $411 million merger, which would add tests for sexually transmitted diseases to the ThinPrep system, has been delayed by a federal antitrust review.

NAOMI AOKI


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