Roche has posted a strong set of financials for the first quarter, again bolstered by its cancer drugs.__Sales reached 11.50 billion francs, a dip of 1% due to the impact of currency, while pharmaceutical revenues also fell 1% to 9.04 billion francs; Roche does not publish quarterly earnings.

The Basel-based major's top-selling drug was MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab), approved for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia as well as rheumatoid arthritis. It contributed 1.67 billion francs, an increase of 3% at constant exchange rates.

Avastin (bevacizumab) had sales of 1.57 billion francs (+9%), while Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2-positive breast cancer rose 3% to 1.53 billion francs. The chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) was up 2% to 1.50 billion francs, while sales of Tarceva (erlotinib), for advanced lung and pancreatic cancer, were down 5% to 304 illion francs.

Lucentis (ranibizumab) for wet age-related macular degeneration increased 8% to 407 million francs, while RoActemra/Actemra (tocilizumab) for rheumatoid arthritis, rocketed 23% to 273 million francs. Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a), for hepatitis B and C, fell 19% to 287 million francs.

As for newer products, two breast cancer treatments - Kadcyla (trastuzumab/emtansine) and Perjeta (pertuzumab) - had sales of 102 million francs (+474%) and 178 million francs (+274%) respectively. The melanoma drug Zelboraf (vemurafenib) brought in 79 million francs, down 2%.