Roche has reported a solid set of results for the first half of 2010, on the back of which it has confirmed its outlook for 2010, despite lower sales of Tamiflu.

The Swiss major said sales were up 3% at 24.64 billion Swiss francs (about $23.49 bilion), while net income climbed 37% to 5.57 billion francs, as the like, year-earlier period included the brunt of costs associated with the Genentech merger. Pharmaceutical sales edged up 1% to 19.39 billion francs, driven by its oncology segment.

The firm’s top-selling drug Avastin (bevacizumab) had sales of 3.39 billion francs, up 14%, while MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab), for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia as well as rheumatoid arthritis, contributed 3.30 billion francs, an increase of 9%. Sales of Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2-positive breast cancer rose 8% to 2.81 billion francs, while the chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) grew 19% to 732 million francs. Sales of Tarceva (erlotinib), for advanced lung and pancreatic cancer, increased 8% to 674 million francs.

As for Roche’s other products, Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a), for hepatitis B and C, rose 5% to 869 million francs, while US turnover of Lucentis (ranibizumab) for wet age-related macular degeneration jumped 27% to 697 million francs. Sales of the antiviral Tamiflu (oseltamivir) predictably fell 31% to 710 million francs, as swine flu fears declined.

Revenues from Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta), for the treatment of anaemia associated with chronic kidney disease, rose 72% to 124 million francs, while RoActemra/Actemra (tocilizumab), which hit the US market in January for rheumatoid arthritis, rocketed 198% to 155 million francs.

Chief executive Severin Schwan said Roche achieved a strong operating performance “despite an increasingly challenging market environment”, noting that pharmaceutical sales increased faster than the market, as did turnover from its diagnostics division, which grew 7% to 5.25 billion francs.

Despite lower Tamiflu sales (expected to total 1 billion Swiss francs in the current year, down from 3.2 billion Swiss francs in 2009) Roche has confirms its full-year guidance of sales growth in the mid-single-digit range for the group and double-digit growth in core earnings per share. However, analysts are concerned that reaching this target could be tricky if the US Food and Drug Administration follows panel advice issued earlier this week which recommended that Avastin should no longer be approved as a treatment for breast cancer.

Mr Schwan said on a conference call this morning that “if we look at metastatic breast cancer sales in the USA, this is about 600 million francs, so we are talking here about 1% of total group sales”. He added that “ increased pressure from governments in terms of pricing, be it the US healthcare reform, be it the austerity measures in Europe”, will hit group sales by around 2%.