Roche boosted by strong drug sales in US and China

Updated: 2013-10-18 11:17


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Roche boosted by strong drug sales in US and China

The logo of the Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen on a factory in Burgdorf near Bern, Switzerland in this Nov 17, 2010.[Photo / Agencies]

Strong demand for Roche's specialty cancer medicines, many of which are bought privately in emerging markets, has helped it defy an expected slowdown in sales in China following a crackdown on sales practices there.

The Swiss group on Thursday posted an 8 percent rise in third-quarter sales in local currencies - or 2.7 percent in Swiss francs, after adverse foreign exchange moves - helped by strong uptake of two new breast cancer drugs.

The world's largest maker of cancer drugs chalked up growth of 12 percent in the United States in the first nine months of the year and said it had seen continued strong growth in China, where sales were up 23 percent.

This contrasts with the problems faced by other multinational drugmakers in China where an anti-bribery drive has hit promotional activities and sales. Many Chinese doctors have refused to see drug representatives for fear of being caught up in the widening scandal.

The impact is expected to be felt most severely at GlaxoSmithKline, the company at the center of bribery allegations, which reports results on Oct 23.

But Roche's specialized cancer drugs, which are generally paid for privately in China, have escaped largely unscathed.

"We have seen that the market as a whole has been affected but again due to the nature of our portfolio we are in a different situation at Roche," Chief Executive Severin Schwan told reporters.

He also slapped down recent speculation that the company could merge with its cross-town rival Novartis and said the Hoffmann-Oeri families, which hold a majority stake in Roche, were committed to the firm's independence.

The Swiss group said quarterly sales rose to 11.57 billion Swiss francs ($12.6 billion), compared with the average analyst forecast of 11.54 billion francs in a Reuters poll.

Analysts at Citi said it was a strong set of numbers and noted the group's diabetes care unit - a weak point in recent quarters - showed signs of some stabilization.

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