Roche has posted a healthy set of financials for the third quarter, with its oncology portfolio again driving growth.

Sales reached 11.78 billion francs, up 5% at constant exchange rates, while pharmaceutical revenues rose 4% to 9.13 billion francs. Roche’s top-selling drug was MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab), approved for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia as well as rheumatoid arthritis; it edged up 1% to 1.76 billion francs.

Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2-positive breast cancer rose 9% to 1.60  billion francs, while Roche’s two newer breast cancer treatments - Kadcyla (trastuzumab/emtansine) and Perjeta (pertuzumab) had sales of 144 million francs (+103%) and 254 million francs (+227%) respectively.

Zelboraf hit by rival melanoma combo

Avastin (bevacizumab) had sales of 1.65 billion francs (+6%), although the chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) sank 61% to 149 million francs, hit by generic competition. The melanoma drug Zelboraf (vemurafenib) brought in 75 million francs, down 13% as a result of competition in the USA from GlaxoSmithKline’s combination of Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib), part of the cancer portfolio GSK is selling to Novartis. Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) for hepatitis B and C fell 22% to 229 million francs, battered by “competition from a new generation of hepatitis C treatment”.

Tarceva (erlotinib), for advanced lung and pancreatic cancer, was flat at 320 million francs, while Lucentis (ranibizumab) for wet age-related macular degeneration rose 2% to 432 million francs. RoActemra/Actemra (tocilizumab) for rheumatoid arthritis, rocketed 28% to 329 million francs, while demand for Xolair (omalizumab) increased after US approval for a form of chronic hives, in addition to its existing
use in allergic asthma; sales leapt 33% to 264 million francs.

Roche’s diagnostics unit had sales of 2.65 billion francs, up 7% and chief executive Severin Schwan (pictured) said “demand for our products is strong in both divisions and we are well on track to reach our full-year targets”. He added that “we have had positive news from our product pipeline”, including study results for Perjeta and a new combination with Zelboraf, and noted the InterMune acquisition which “has also strengthened our portfolio” with Esbriet (pirfenidone) for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which has just been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.