Roche has posted a decent set of figures for 2012, thanks to its oncology portfolio, and is confident of similar growth this year.

Group sales reached 11.27 billion francs, a rise of 4% (at constant exchange rates), while net income edged up 1% to 9.77 billion francs. Pharmaceutical revenues increased 5% to 35.23 billion francs. US drug sales were particularly strong, up 7% to 13.86 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 6.70 billion francs, an increase of 9%. Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2-positive breast cancer rose 11% to 5.89 billion francs, while Avastin (bevacizumab) had sales of 5.76 billion francs (+6%).

The chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) grew 9% to 1.52 billion francs, while sales of Tarceva (erlotinib), for advanced lung and pancreatic cancer, were up 2% to 1.31 billion francs. As for Roche’s other products, Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a), for hepatitis B and C, climbed 12% to 1.65 billion francs. Sales of the transplantation product CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) fell 11% to 909 million francs, while RoActemra/Actemra (tocilizumab) for rheumatoid arthritis, rocketed 33% to 842 million francs.

As for its new products, Roche noted that skin cancer drug Zelboraf (vemurafenib) brought in 234 million francs, while and its new HER2 breast cancer therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) contributed 56 million francs. Sales of Erivedge (vismodegib), which is used to treat advanced basal cell carcinoma, were 29 million francs.

For 2013, Roche says it expects sales to increase in line with growth seen last year, while core earnings per share, up 10% in 2012 to 13.62 francs, should rise ahead of sales. Chief executive Severin Schwan (pictured) said "2012 was a very good year for Roche. We met our financial targets, grew faster than the market, and our strong pipeline positions us well for further growth".

He described the launch of Perjeta as "a particular highlight", adding that "we now look forward to getting T-DM1, our other novel breast cancer therapy, to patients as soon as possible.” The latter combines Herceptin with partner ImmunoGen's chemotherapy DM1 (emtansine) and a US regulatory decision is expected next month.