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Roche in "unprecedented" launch period for new medicines

Cotellic, Alecensa, Venclexta and Tecentriq position firm to meet 2016 sales targets

With five new medicines launching in just one year, Roche is set up to meet its sales targets in 2016 and beyond, according to chief executive Severin Schwan.

In the last 12 months the company has launched Cotellic (cobimetinib) for melanoma, lung cancer drug Alecensa (alectinib), Venclexta (venetoclax) for leukaemia and PD-L1 inhibitor Tecentriq (atezolizumab) for bladder and lung cancer, and is waiting on a regulatory green light for multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus (ocrelizumab).

The array of new launches - as well as the resilience of Roche's older cancer and immunotherapy drugs - helped the group to a 4.5% increase in revenues to 12.48bn Swiss francs ($12.6bn) in the third quarter, with the pharma division up by the same margin to 9.68bn francs.

Tecentriq continued its strong start in the market, with sales reaching 77m francs, while Alecensa added another 122m francs to the pot, and Cotellic contributed 30m francs. The launch of AbbVie-partnered Venclexta came too late in the quarter to feature in the financial results.

The star in Roche's show was once again its trio of HER2-positive breast cancer drugs - Herceptin (trastuzumab), Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) - whose sales increased 9% to 7.12bn francs, driven mainly by a 31% growth for Perjeta on the back of data showing it increases survival when given alongside Herceptin.

Two of Roche's other big sellers - MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab) and Avastin (bevacizumab) - managed to grow slightly despite competition and pricing pressure.

Avastin is already facing biosimilar competition in some emerging markets and MabThera will likely see rivals on sales by the end of 2017, so Roche needs its newer launches to deliver in order to maintain sales growth.

There was further good news on that score, as sales of another recent launch - Gazyva/Gazyvaro (obinutuzumab) for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and follicular lymphoma - rocketed 54% to 142m francs.

Gazyva's gains came despite increased competition in the CLL market from drugs such as AbbVie/Johnson & Johnson's Imbruvica (ibrutinib) and Gilead Science's Zydelig (idelalisib) and a failed trial in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"We had continued good sales growth in both pharmaceuticals and diagnostics driven by our newly launched products, and our product pipeline is developing very well," commented Schwan.

"Based on our performance so far, I am confident that we will meet our full-year targets for 2016."

Article by
Phil Taylor

20th October 2016

From: Sales



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