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Roche buoyed by cancer drug sales

Published on 22/04/15 at 11:26am
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Pharma’s biggest cancer drugs maker Roche has reported strong sales growth on the back of its oncology portfolio for its first quarter financials.

Roche’s cancer franchise lifted sales 3% higher in the first quarter which has impelled the Swiss company to confirm its guidance for the year, suggesting it will raise its dividend.

The Basel-based firm notes sales rose to $12.4 billion come the end of March, thus beating an analyst forecast in the process. It says revenue rose 5% when reported in constant currency (a measure that strips out the impact of foreign exchange swings).

Roche chief executive Severin Schwan says: “We started the year with strong growth and good uptake of new products. In particular, I am pleased to see continued strong demand for Perjeta for breast cancer, as well as Esbriet, which was recently approved in the US for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Schwan adds that during Q1 the FDA also granted a second breakthrough therapy designation for its cancer immunotherapy medicine anti-PDL1, for a specific type of lung cancer, in addition to bladder cancer. “Overall, we are on track to reach our full-year targets for 2015.”

Roche attributes its growth in oncology chiefly from HER2-positive breast cancer medicine Avastin, MabThera/Rituxan) and in immunology (Actemra/RoActemra, Xolair). It also cites strong demand for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis medicine Esbriet.

For its previous quarter figures the firm had posted a mixed bag of financial results that were complemented again, only by strong growth in its oncology and immunology divisions.

Revenue in its fourth quarter was up to $14 billion, a growth of around 2% from last year. But it also posted a 16% drop in annual profits, insisting that sales in 2015 will recover due to its ‘strong product portfolio and pipeline’.

For 2015 Roche says it expects sales to grow low- to mid-single digit at constant exchange rates (CER). Core earnings per share are targeted to climb ahead of sales at CER.

Brett Wells

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