For Roche the pandemic giveth and taketh away


Fuelled by Covid-19, Roche’s diagnostics sales are doing nicely – which is just as well, because biosimilar competition for some of its major blockbusters has taken a toll on the Swiss group’s drug sales. Its oncology franchise is down 8% owing to biosimilars and the effects of the pandemic, and despite Roche talking up its newer drugs such as Tecentriq and Perjeta it is clearly suffering in this area. Phase I discontinuations also bear examination. Roche has canned RG6000, a dual leucine zipper kinase inhibitor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the only molecule with this mechanism known to have been in development by any pharma group. An antibody-drug conjugate to treat Staphylococcus aureus infections, RG7861, has also been dropped; this had resulted from a 2011 research collaboration into ADCs with Seagen. Overall Roche’s pharma division brought in SFr34.3bn ($37.5bn) in the first three quarters of 2020, down 1% on a constant-currency basis. But sales in its diagnostics unit were up 9% at constant currency at SFr9.6bn for January to September. Roche has launched 13 separate Covid-19 assays in various territories, and doubtless has further ones planned. 

Source: company presentation.

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