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Roche delivers solid sales gain in 2012

New cancer products, such as Perjeta and Zelboraf, help growth

Roche headquarters

Roche has reported a healthy 7 per cent increase in sales for 2012 to 45.5bn Swiss francs ($49bn), thanks to buoyant sales in the US and the strength of the firm's cancer unit.

The Swiss pharma company has had relatively low generic exposure compared to some of its pharma rivals which helped its top line, although austerity measures continued to put pressure on revenues in Europe.

Overall, pharma sales rose 7 per cent to 35.2bn Swiss francs, while Roche's diagnostics division advanced 5 per cent to 10.27bn Swiss francs in 2012. The company's US operations rose 7 per cent but Europe shrank 2 per cent thanks to pricing pressures, unpaid bills and weaker demand.

Chief executive Severin Schwann said 2013 sales are likely to grow in line with 2012, although some analysts said this was probably a modest assessment given that the company is gearing up for some major product roll-outs.

Roche's cancer portfolio led the charge in 2012, with a 9 per cent gain overall, with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma therapy MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab) up by the same margin to 6.71bn Swiss francs.

Colorectal and lung cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) was up 6 per cent to 5.76bn Swiss francs while breast cancer blockbuster Herceptin (trastuzumab) added 5.89bn Swiss francs to Roche's coffers, up a sprightly 11 per cent on 2011.

The cancer unit looks set to enjoy another growth spurt with Perjeta (pertuzumab) cleared in its first markets last year for use alongside Herceptin in HER2-positive breast cancer, adding 56m Swiss francs in its first few weeks on the market.

Perjeta has been tipped as a future blockbuster, as has Herceptin follow-up trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), which is filed in the US and Europe and expected to be on the market before Herceptin starts to lose patent protection in 2014.

Other highlights for the year included a positive start for melanoma drug Zelboraf (vemurafenib) in its first full year on the market, racking up sales of 234m Swiss francs, while Erivedge (vismodegib) for basal cell carcinoma – approved in the US a year ago – contributed 29m Swiss francs.

 “2012 was a very good year for Roche,” said Schwan. “We met our financial targets, grew faster than the market, and our strong pipeline positions us well for further growth.”

31st January 2013

From: Sales

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