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Roche faces biosimilar blitz in 2018

Analysts predict copycat competitors will slow the Swiss group’s revenue growth

Roche

Swiss pharma giant Roche had a strong year in 2017 with good group sales growth, but it’s set to face a wave of new biosimilar competition reaching the market this year.

Avastin (bevacizumab), Roche’s biggest-selling cancer drug, will imminently face some stiff competition in the EU from Amgen and Allergan’s recently licenced biosimilar Mvasi - which became the first bevacizumab copycat approved by the EC.

But Roche’s cancer antibody isn’t its only drug battling for market share - breast cancer blockbuster Herceptin (trastuzmab) also has a biosimilar rival in the form of Samsung Bioepis’ Ontruzant, which was approved last year for the full range of registered indications for Herceptin.

Novartis’ unit Sandoz and Celltrion/Mundipharma’s Truxima have also claimed a European approval for its biosimilar versions of Roche’s immunotherapy drug MabThera (rituximab).

This will start to take a toll on Roche this year with expected revenue to be in the low single digit range according to analysts at JPMorgan, who have forecasted that Herceptin will see a 9% drop in sales to CHF 6.2bn.

Additionally, Rituxan is expected to plummet by 16% to CHF 6.1bn this year.

As a response however, the Swiss pharma group is stepping up its game with new medicines revealing positive results in Tecentriq for lung cancer, which will help it take on Merck & Co’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), and Hemlibra which has bagged US approval to treat patients with haemophilia A.

Roche’s chief executive officer Severin Schwan said: “In 2017 we made significant progress with good growth in both divisions driven by newly launched medicines and tests.”

Last year, Ocrevus, Tecentriq, Perjeta and Alecensa sales drove a 5% growth for Roche, along with label extensions for existing products and approvals for new medicines Ocrevus and Hemlibra in the US.

Schwan added: “I am particularly pleased with the successful launch of Ocrevus and Hemlibra and important approvals for additional indications for Perjeta, Teqentriq and Alecensa.”

Despite it’s challenging year ahead, Roche are confident that they are “well positioned for the future” based on its “strong product portfolio”.

Article by
Gemma Jones

2nd February 2018

From: Sales

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