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Roche blockbuster sales boost first-half profits

July 25, 2013

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG posted an 11 percent rise in first-half profit Thursday boosted by strong sales of its blockbuster cancer drugs and some new additions to the line-up.

The Basel, Switzerland-based company said its core net income, or profit, during the first six months of the year increased to 6.65 billion Swiss francs ($7.09 billion), up from 5.98 billion francs in the comparable period of 2012 — of that 6.5 billion francs was attributable to shareholders, up 12 percent on the previous year.

The world’s biggest manufacturer of cancer drugs, which reports earnings only every six months, said Thursday that its top drugs, Avastin, Rituxan and Herceptin, and new breast cancer treatments Perjeta and Kadcyla contributed to strong first-half sales of more than 23.3 billion francs, up 4 percent from the first half of 2012. And on Wednesday, Roche announced positive results with its experimental leukemia drug GA101, indicating that could become a strong-selling successor to Rituxan after it loses patent protection in Europe at the end of this year.

The strong sales came despite the increasing competition in the market from cheaper generic rivals when strong sellers lose their patent protections. Roche said it expects full-year sales for 2013 to continue along the lines of last year’s 7 percent growth.

Chief Executive Severin Schwan said Roche was putting most of its effort into developing products from some 68 new molecular entities in its pharmaceuticals pipeline and 55 potential diagnostics platforms and tests.

The company has always focused on dividends to return cash to shareholders and will also continue to focus on “bolt-on acquisitions,” Schwan said. Its first-half results, he said, were “driven by our existing portfolio, recently launched cancer medicines Perjeta and Kadcyla, as well as continued growth in the clinical laboratory business.”

Shares in Roche rose 0.6 percent on the Zurich exchange Thursday to end at 234.80 francs.

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