Roche has booked a 3% rise in first-half sales to 23.6 billion CHF, as a strong performance in oncology and immunology overshot a 3% drag from currency effects.

Underpinning the results, solid growth was delivered by both the firm’s Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics segments, helping to drive a 7% rise in operating profit to 9.2 billion CHF.

Pharmaceuticals division sales were up 3% (5% at constant exchange rates) on the back of 21% combined growth of HER2-positive breast cancer medicines Herceptin (trastuzumab), Perjeta (pertuzumab), Kadcyla (trastuzumab/emtansine), and a 9% rise in sales of Avastin (bevacizumab) to 3.3 billion CHF.

Elsewhere, MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab), for blood cancers and rheumatoid arthritis, continued to grow solidly, climbing 6% to 3.5 billion CHF. Actemra/RoActemra (tocilizumab), which is used mainly to treat rheumatoid arthritis, leapt 25% to 625 million CHF, while sales of Xolair (omalizumab), now used in the treatment of chronic hives as well as asthma, jumped 28% to 593 million CHF. 

Roche said it was also pleased with uptake of Esbriet (pirfenidone) for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, acquired through its purchase of InterMune last year, which booked sales of 229 million CHF for the period.

Lucentis down 13%

On the downside, revenues from oral chemotherapy drug Xeloda (capecitabine) and anti-viral medicine Valcyte (valganciclovir) declined because of generic erosion, while turnover from hepatitis medicine Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) and eye drug Lucentis (ranibizumab), down 13% at 769 million CHF, both fell because of increased competition.

In the Diagnostics Division, sales increased 7%, driven primarily by immunodiagnostic products from the Professional Diagnostics business area, the Molecular and Tissue Diagnostics business areas also performed well, each up 12%, and sales in Diabetes Care increased 1%, despite ongoing challenging market conditions.

Roche said it continues to expect sales to grow low- to mid-single digit at CER in 2015, while core earnings per share are targeted to grow ahead of sales at CER.