Roche's breast cancer drugs keep it on track to meet targets

Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:39am EDT
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By Caroline Copley

BASEL (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche confirmed its full-year sales and profit targets on Thursday as growing momentum for its new breast cancer medicines and professional diagnostics products countered the effects of a strong Swiss franc.

Unlike other pharmaceutical companies that have been ravaged by patent losses, Roche has yet to face a challenge to its older biotech drugs by makers of copycat treatments and has launched a string of new, expensive cancer medicines.

The Basel-based firm hopes these so-called follow-on drugs will help it defend sales in its breast and blood cancer businesses once generic competition arrives.

Its strategy looked sound after first-half sales of Perjeta, which targets the same protein found on some cancer cells as Roche's older blockbuster Herceptin, surged 276 percent to 388 million Swiss francs ($429.68 million).

Another breast cancer drug Kadcyla notched up 227 million in sales, compared to 83 million a year earlier.

Roche also won approval for Gazyva, a follow-on to its top-seller MabThera in the United States last November. The drug chalked up sales of 18 million in the first half.

A strong performance in its professional diagnostics business, where sales rose 9 percent, also helped to offset flat sales in its diabetes care unit.

First-half sales fell 1 percent to 22.97 billion Swiss francs ($25.5 billion), generating "core" earnings per share of 7.57 francs. Excluding the impact of currencies, including a weak U.S. dollar in particular, sales rose 5 percent.   Continued...

The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is seen outside their headquarters in Basel January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich