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Oncology drives Roche profits

pharmafile | January 30, 2014 | News story | Sales and Marketing Actemra, Perjeta, Roche, Swiss, q4 

Sales at Roche’s pharma division rose 7% year-on-year in 2013, driven largely by strong performances from its oncology portfolio.

Group sales rose 6% to 46.8 billion Swiss francs (CHF), with core operating profit climbing 4% to CHF17.9 billion.

Pharma sales were 7% higher at CHF36.3 billion: within that, the company’s HER2 breast cancer franchise was impressive, with key medicines bettering their performance in 2012: Avastin sales were up 13%, and MabThera/Rituxan up 6 per cent.

Rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra/RoActemra (with a 30% rise on 2012) and eye treatment Lucentis (15%) also did well.

Roche says sales growth was strongest in the US, with a year-on-year rise of 10%, and in the emerging markets segment (up 12%) – both of which comfortably outstripped Europe (a 2% rise) and Japan (also up 2 per cent).

“2013 was a very good year for Roche,” said its chief executive Severin Schwan. “We exceeded our financial targets with strong demand for our existing products and positive uptake of recently launched medicines and diagnostics.”

He singled out the launches of Perjeta and Kadcyla for breast cancer and Gazyva for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in the US as highlights for the company. Diagnostics sales rose 4% to CHF10.5 billion.

“In diagnostics we introduced a range of new instruments and tests that further strengthen our position as market leader, including the cobas 8100 and a new HPV test for cervical cancer,” Schwan added. “With our strong product pipeline we are well positioned for future success.”

The company says it has 15 new molecular entities in late-stage development and eight compounds were selected for progress last year.

These include six in oncology (anti-CD79b ADC, pan-PI3Ki, beta-sparing PI3Ki, alectinib, Bcl-2i and anti-PDL1), plus etrolizumab for inflammatory bowel disease and lampalizumab for geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry AMD.

Currency exchange had a negative impact on Roche’s results, with the Swiss franc rising in 2013 against the Japanese yen and US dollar, but falling against the euro.

In 2014 Roche predicts growth in the low- to mid-single digits.

Adam Hill

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