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Roche reports strong Q1 performance

Swiss company Roche has reported an 8 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year

Swiss company Roche has reported an 8 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year.

Roche recorded sales of 11.6bn Swiss francs in Q1 2009 – an increase of 8 per cent in local currencies compared with Q1 2008. Sales in the pharmaceuticals division were almost double the global market growth rate of 4.4 per cent, and the diagnostics division also recorded a growth in sales, which reached 2.4bn Swiss francs in Q1.

High sales were driven by key products such as cancer drugs Avastin and Herceptin, along with Tamiflu for influenza and Lucentis for wet age-related macular degeneration.

A decision is expected in May from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding Roche's application for an accelerated approval for the use of Avastin in patients with the most aggressive form of brain tumour - previously treated glioblastoma.

The company's rheumatoid arthritis drug, Actemra, which was approved in Europe in January and in Japan in April, has received a positive response from physicians. It is expected that Actemra with drive future sales growth.

Roche agreed a $46.8bn merger deal with Genentech in March 2009 making the combined entity the seventh largest US pharmaceuticals company in terms of market share. This week, Roche announced the appointments of key Genentech staff within the new company.

Severin Schwan, CEO, said that based on the first three months of 2009 he is confident the company can achieve its full-year targets. Commenting on the Genentech merger, he said: "We are delighted that Art Levinson will continue to support us in an active role and that many outstanding individuals from both Genentech and Roche have committed themselves to driving forward the combined businesses. We will update our full-year outlook to include the impact of the Genentech transaction when we announce our half-year results."

16th April 2009

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