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Tamiflu sales boost Roche results despite efficacy concerns

Pharma company reports total sales of $12.44bn in first quarter of 2013

Roche Tamiflu

Roche got off to a good start in the first quarter of the year, with a 6 per cent increase in revenues driven by its cancer portfolio and flu drug Tamiflu that beat analyst consensus forecasts. 

The first big pharma financial results of the season make for encouraging reading, with Roche's total sales reaching 11.59bn Swiss francs ($12.44bn), with drug sales up 7 per cent to 9.17bn Swiss francs on the back of  bumper Tamiflu (oseltamivir) sales, which rose 84 per cent due to a severe flu season in North America.

This was despite ongoing concerns about the efficacy of the drug, which Roche is attempting to address through the release of all trial data to the Cochrane collaboration.

Tamiflu accounted for a large chunk of the increase in pharma revenues, but there were solid gains for the firm's blockbuster cancer drugs, with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab)  both rising 11 per cent to 1.57bn Swiss francs and 1.53bn Swiss francs respectively, and MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab) up 6 per cent to a little under 1.7bn Swiss francs.

The oncology portfolio was also lofted by recent HER2-positive breast cancer entrants Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) and Perjeta (pertuzumab), said chief executive Severin Schwann.

Kadcyla, which became the first antibody-drug candidate (ADC) for breast cancer when it was cleared by the US FDA in mid-February, racked up 18m Swiss francs in its first few weeks on the market. Meanwhile Perjeta added an impressive 50m Swiss francs since its approval in Europe in early March.

Actemra/RoActemra (tocilizumab) also put in a good quarter, with sales up nearly a third due increased use as a monotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis. On the downside Roche's diagnostics division put in a lacklustre showing with sales flat at 2.42bn Swiss francs.

"Based on the first-quarter results, I am confident we will meet our full-year targets," said Schwann. Roche has said previously it expects to match 2012's performance of a 4 per cent increase in revenues. It does not provide profit information until a later stage, but has indicated earnings in 2013 will rise a little more than sales.

Roche has been insulated from much of the fallout from patent expiries affecting its peers in the sector thanks to its early move into biologic drugs, for which it is much harder than small-molecule drugs to develop generics.

11th April 2013

From: Sales

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