Swiss pharmaceutical powerhouse, Roche, says that 2004 profits more than doubled versus the previous year to come in at 6.6 billion Swiss francs [[04/02/04a]], thanks to a 11% boost in sales for the period to 29.4 billion Swiss francs, on the back of continuing strong performances from its oncology products, and gains as a result of the recent 2.4 billion-euro sale of its over-the-counter business to Bayer [[22/11/04c]].

Pharmaceutical revenues rose 13% in 2004 to 21.7 billion Swiss francs, including a 32% hike in sales of the company’s oncology portfolio to 7.7 billion francs. Sales of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment, MabThera (rituximab), climbed 28% to 3.5 billion Swiss francs, while the breast cancer agents, Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Xeloda (capecitabine), rose 26% to 1.4 billion Swiss francs and 7% to 534 million Swiss francs. The company’s new colorectal cancer treatment, Avastin (bevacizumab), brought in 690 million Swiss francs during its first year on the market, since winning coveted US approval in February last year [[27/02/04a]]. The product is now also cleared for use in Europe [[14/01/05b]].

On a darker note, the firm continued to struggle in increasingly competitive anaemia marketplace, with sales of NeoRecormon (epoetin beta) rising by just 1% in 2004 to 2.1 billion Swiss francs. In addition, sales of the company’s Tamiflu (oseltamivir) influenza vaccine, declined 22% to 330 million francs due to the relatively mild flu season. Other disappointments came in the form of the obesity drug, Xenical (orlistat), dipping 2% to 593 million francs, and the acne drug, Roaccutane (isotretinoin), which slumped 37% to 316 million francs.

However, the picture in the virology market was much brighter, with the hepatitis C therapies, Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) and Copegus (ribavirin) advancing 69% to 1.2 billion Swiss francs and 79% to 383 million francs respectively. In addition, the HIV treatment, Fuzeon (enfuvirtide), continued to grow during 2004, reaching 168 million Swiss francs at year-end.

For the coming year, expects sales to outpace the market as a whole, although performance in the pharmaceuticals business will be impacted by the expiry of the US patent on the antibiotic, Rocephin (ceftriaxone), as well as product launch costs and continued research and development activities.