Roche is not going to be looking at any big deals for a while, and will focus on bolt-on acquisitions, according to its chief executive.

Speaking after the Swiss major announced a 3% drop in sales for the third quarter, Severin Schwan said "we believe that the industry consolidation will continue". However, Roche, which shelled out $46.8 billion last year to take full control of Genentech, will continue "to concentrate on the acquisition of small and medium-sized takeovers", he added.

Mr Schwan also stressed that the company will not be going down the branded generics route taken by a number of its peers and believes innovation is still the key to success. The Basel-based giant has suffered a number of development setbacks recently, notably with the Ipsen-partnered diabetes drug taspoglutide and failures in various indications for its blockbuster Avastin (bevacizumab); yesterday Roche confirmed it has halted development of the latter as a treatment for adjuvant colorectal cancer.

The company is working out the details of its Operational Excellence cost-cutting initiative and the specific measures will be unveiled before year-end. Although Roche previously said that all parts of the organisation will be reviewed, R&D is not expected to be drastically cut, and Mr Schwan noted that "several of our pharma development projects reported positive data in the third quarter, notably MetMAb in lung cancer and T-DM1 in HER2-positive breast cancer".