Roche CEO 'sleeps better' as risk to drugmaker's growth recedes

Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:22pm EDT
 
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By John Miller and Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - Roche (ROG.S: Quote) is increasingly confident it will continue to lift sales and profit even as cut-rate copies of the Swiss drugmaker's older cancer medicines start to grab business next year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Big wins for three new drugs in recent months have helped to offset what Roche's Severin Schwan acknowledges as a serious threat from so-called biosimilars.

"In terms of growth, I am now at the point where I sleep much better," Schwan told Reuters on a visit to London.

In February the company won U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) breakthrough status for new multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus.

That was followed in May by U.S. approval of immuno-oncology drug Tecentriq for bladder cancer, with an expected sign-off for lung cancer waiting in the wings.

Then came a surprise early announcement that Roche's blood cancer drug Gazyva worked better than an older drug.

Together, these developments have boosted Schwan's optimism that Roche can more than replace income lost as rivals such as Novartis (NOVN.S: Quote) and Mylan (MYL.O: Quote) begin selling biosimilar copies of older Roche drugs in the second half of 2017.

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CEO Severin Schwan of Swiss drugmaker Roche addresses the annual news conference at the company's headquarters in Base, Switzerland January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo