Roche sales rise in Q1 despite strong franc

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche reported a three percent rise in first quarter sales despite a strong Swiss franc, and said it was on track to meet this year's targets.

Roche sales rise in Q1 despite strong franc
Photo: Roche

The world's largest maker of cancer drugs said sales rose to 11.8 billion francs ($12.4 billion) from 11.4 billion francs last year, beating analyst forecasts which had pegged them at an average of 11.5 billion Swiss francs.

"We started the year with strong growth and good uptake of new products," 
said Severin Schwan, the CEO of the Basel-based firm.

"Overall, we are on track to reach our full-year targets for 2015," he said.

"In 2015, Roche continues to expect sales to grow low- to mid-single digit, 
at constant exchange rates," a statement said, hinting at growth of between one and five percent.

The company said it expected to pay a higher dividend in Swiss francs to shareholders this year.

It said sales were affected by two percentage points following a shock 
decision by the Swiss National Bank in January to lift the exchange rate peg against the euro, which sent the Swiss franc soaring.

But the company said that the impact of the weaker euro was more than 
offset by a stronger dollar.

Sales in the pharmaceutical division rose four percent to 9.3 billion
francs, spurred by medicines for HER2-positive breast cancer such as Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla, which saw very strong growth of 23 percent, it said.

"Avastin, which is used to treat seven different cancers, also continued to 
grow strongly," with a six percent rise in sales, it said.

In diagnostics, sales also increased six percent.

Roche this month announced it had acquired a majority stake in US molecular 
and genomic analysis business Foundation Medicine for an undisclosed sum, an acquisition expected to help it develop treatments in cancer immunotherapy.

"This collaboration aims to advance personalized healthcare, by making use 
of molecular information and genomic profiles to better target cancer tumours," Roche said Wednesday.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swiss-American antibody drug ‘effective at preventing Covid infection’

US biotech firm Regeneron and its Swiss partner Roche unveiled promising clinical trial results Monday indicating that an antibody treatment used to treat Covid-19 patients also helps prevent infections.

Swiss-American antibody drug 'effective at preventing Covid infection'
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The results of the Phase 3 trial showed that the combination of the antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab dramatically reduced the risk of symptomatic infection among people living with Covid-19 patients, Roche said in a statement.

The trial entailed injecting 1,505 people not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus but living in households with people carrying the virus with the Regeneron antibody cocktail or a placebo.

READ MORE: Why are vaccination appointments still vacant in Zurich?

The trial, which was conducted in cooperation with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, showed that those who received the antibody cocktail saw their risk of symptomatic infection reduced by 81 percent, the companies said.

It also indicated that those treated with casirivimab and imdevimab who did experience symptomatic infection on average saw their symptoms clear within one week — far faster than the three-week average for those who received the placebo.

In a separate part of the study, 204 people who had recently tested positive for Covid-19 but showed no symptoms received either a dose of the antibody cocktail or a placebo.

Those who received the cocktail saw their risk of developing symptoms reduced by 31 percent compared to the placebo group, the companies said.

“Today’s data confirm the potential dual value of casirivimab and imdevimab to reduce household Covid-19 infections and to decrease the disease burden in those who do become infected, when given as a subcutaneous option,” Levi Garraway, Roche’s chief medical officer said in a statement.

“Although vaccinations are increasing globally, there remains a critical unmet need worldwide to prevent infections and provide immediate protection from Covid-19 between close contacts,” he said.

EXPLAINED: How Switzerland is speeding up its vaccination programme

Regeneron president and chief scientist George Yancopoulos agreed, pointing out that in the United States alone, 60,000 people are being diagnosed with Covid-19 every day.

The antibody cocktail “may help provide immediate protection to unvaccinated people who are exposed to the virus”, he said in a statement, adding that it could also potentially “provide ongoing protection for immunocompromised patients who may not respond well to vaccines”.

Regeneron said it would present the data to the US Food and Drug Administration and request it clear the Covid antibody cocktail for use as a preventative treatment.

The companies said they would share the new data with health regulators worldwide.