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Roche says Tecentriq "off to a good start"

Bladder cancer therapy drug seems set for rapid growth

Roche Basel Switzerland 

Roche's new bladder cancer therapy Tecentriq made $19m in sales in its first few weeks on the US market, helping the company beat first-half sales forecasts.

Tecentriq (atezolizumab) is the third drug in the fast-growing PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor category to reach the market, and based on initial uptake seems set to follow the same rapid growth trajectory as its predecessors - Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo (nivolumab) and Merck & Co's Keytruda (pembrolizumab).

The PD-L1 inhibitor was approved in May in the US as a treatment for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) whose disease has progressed during or after platinum-based chemotherapy and is the first immuno-oncology drug to be approved in this setting. It is predicted to eventually become a $3bn product. 

Roche needs Tecentriq and other new launches such as AbbVie-partnered Venclexta (venetoclax) for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) to grow quickly as it starts to face the prospect of biosimilar competition for its big-selling antibody drugs.

Overall, revenues at the Swiss pharma group rose 4% to 25bn Swiss francs ($25.3bn) in the first six months of the year, with the pharma division up 4% to 19.46bn francs, which was a little higher than analyst consensus forecasts. 

Once again, cancer drugs drove the increase in the pharma division with its trio of therapies for HER2-positive breast cancer accounting for around 4.75bn francs. Strong gains for Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) reinforced a 5% increase for HER2 stalwart Herceptin (trastuzumab) to 3.4bn francs.

Roche's top-selling drug MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab) - approved for several indications including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and CLL - also managed a 4% increase to 3.7bn francs. 

Chief executive Severin Schwan highlighted the prospects for multiple sclerosis candidate Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), another potential blockbuster which was awarded a priority review by the FDA last month and could be effective in both relapsing/remitting and secondary progressive forms of MS.

Article by
Phil Taylor

21st July 2016

From: Sales

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