US biotechnology behemoth, Genentech, is continuing to impress investors with strong financials, and reported a 73% boost in second quarter net income to $296 million dollars, on the back of surging sales from its oncology franchise.

The company’s share price rose by more than 1.5% during after-hours trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange yesterday on the back of the results, and was further boosted by an improved outlook for the remainder of the year. The firm says it is now expecting earnings per share for the twelve-month period to increase by at least 35% over 2004, up from earlier forecasts of 25% [[11/01/05d]].

Total product sales during the quarter were up 39% over the corresponding three months of 2004 to $1.3 billion [[09/07/04a]]. The colorectal cancer agent, Avastin (bevacizumab), generated $246 million in the quarter – some 85% higher than the second quarter of 2004. And this performance looks set to improve further if the drug shines through in other indications. Avastin, which works by choking off the blood supply that is essential for the growth of the tumour and its spread throughout the body, has also shown promise in the treatment of breast and non-small cell lung cancers [[16/05/05e]], [[15/03/05a]]. Genentech is currently preparing for potential US filings for the drug in these latter two indications as well as in the second-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

Other stalwart Genentech cancer therapies also put in good showings during the quarter – Rituxan (rituximab) for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma rose 15% to $450 million, Herceptin (trastuzumab) for breast cancer climbed 29% to $152 million, and Tarceva (erlotinib) for NSCLC was up 47% to $48 million.

Products outside the oncology franchise also performed well, with the asthma treatment, Xolair (omalizumab), increasing 84% to $80 million, and the psoriasis agent, Raptiva (efalizumab), jumping 59% to $21 million.