Roche of Switzerland has unveiled record results this morning for 2006 which show a 34% jump in net income to 9.17 billion Swiss francs ($7.3 billion) on the back of exceptional revenue growth from its cancer portfolio and demand for the influenza drug Tamiflu.

Group sales were up 18% to 42.04 billion francs, while pharmaceutical turnover advanced 22% to 33.29 billion francs, “over three times the global market growth rate.” Roche’s oncology products again impressed, headed by MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab), which enjoyed a 15% increase to 4.84 billion francs and Herceptin (trastuzumab), sales of which shot up 81% to 3.93 billion francs. Also enjoying a major growth spurt was Avastin (bevacizumab), up 76% to 2.96 billion francs.

The other eye-catching performance came from Tamiflu (oseltamivir), which benefited from global stockpiling of the influenza drug by governments and soared 68% to 2.63 billion francs. Roche added that it now had manufacturing capacity for Tamiflu that exceeded all government orders to date.

Other products driving growth included Roche unit Genentech’s ophthalmology drug Lucentis (ranibuzumab) which brought in 474 million francs despite only being approved for marketing in the USA at the end of June, and the osteoporosis medicine Bonviva/Boniva (ibandronic acid), which saw sales soar 462% to 488 million francs, helped by the introduction of a new formulation in the USA. A little more disappointing was the performance of the anaemia drugs NeoRecormon and Epogin (epoetin beta), combined sales of which slipped 1% to 2.23 billion francs, hurt by price cuts in Japan and a reduction in the overall size of the anaemia market due to the introduction of flat-rate reimbursement for epoetin products used in dialysis patients.

The future for Roche looks pretty rosy as well, and the company noted that its pipeline comprises 101 clinical projects, made up of 48 new molecular entities and 53 additional indications. 18 NMEs are in Phase II and five in Phase III or filed for regulatory review and in 2006 the total number of late-stage projects in the pipeline increased from 41 to 47. 15 projects were either terminated or reverted to the respective R&D partner.

Chief executive Franz Humer was understandably pleased with the results which he said “reflects exceptionally strong organic growth.” He was also full of praise for Roche’s diagnostics division which “maintained its leadership position in an increasingly competitive market,” and he concluding by saying that “we are equipped to continue growing well ahead of the market…in the years ahead.”

The reaction to the results was initially muted, as Roche was expected to post these figures, and analysts were a little disappointed that the Swiss major was not more bullish in terms of its guidance for 2007, as the firm limited itself to predicting simply double-digit sales growth.