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