Roche has posted a strong set of sales figures for the third quarter of 2012, with strong growth for its oncology portfolio.

Group sales reached 11.27 billion francs, a rise of 4% at constant exchange rates and up 15% in local currencies. Pharmaceutical revenues also increased 4% to 17.40 billion francs.

The firm’s top-selling drug was MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab), approved for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia as well as rheumatoid arthritis, which contributed 1.68 billion francs, an increase of 11%. Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2-positive breast cancer rose 14% to 1.48 billion francs, while Avastin (bevacizumab) had sales of 1.50 billion francs (+11%).

The chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) grew 4% to 386 million francs, while sales of Tarceva (erlotinib), for advanced lung and pancreatic cancer, slipped 5% to 323 million francs. As for Roche’s other products, Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a), for hepatitis B and C, fell 4% to 374 million francs. Sales of the transplantation product CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) fell 11% to 230 million francs.

Combined sales of Roche’s NeoRecormon and its Chugai unit’s Epogin (epoetin beta), for anaemia, declined 20% to 170 million francs, while the osteoporosis drug Boniva/Bonviva (ibandronic acid) sank 70 to 51 million francs. Lucentis (ranibizumab) for wet age-related macular degeneration fell 12% to 368 million francs.

On the bright side, RoActemra/Actemra (tocilizumab) for rheumatoid arthritis, rocketed 27% to 216 million francs. The clotbusters Activase (alteplase) and TNKase (tenecteplase) contributed 152 million euros, a rise of 30%.

For the full year, Roche says it expects low to mid-single-digit sales growth at constant exchange rates, both for the group as a whole and for its pharmaceuticals division. The Basel-based major does not publish details of quarterly earnings.

Chief executive Severin Schwan (pictured) said that "we remain well on track to meet our full-year targets", adding that "our pipeline has continued to deliver with 11 positive results out of 14 late-stage studies so far this year". He stated that Roche has strengthened its HER2 franchise with the successful launch of Perjeta (pertuzumab) in the USA and Switzerland as well as the filing of the antibody-drug conjugate T-DM1 (trastuzumab/emtansine) in both the USA and Europe.