In the first three months of 2019, Group sales rose 8% to CHF 14.8 billion. Sales in the Pharmaceuticals Division increased 10% to CHF 11.9 billion. Key growth drivers were the multiple sclerosis medicine Ocrevus and cancer medicines Perjeta and Tecentriq as well as the new haemophilia medicine Hemlibra. As expected, the strong uptake of newly introduced medicines was partially offset by lower sales of Herceptin and of MabThera/Rituxan.
In the US, sales increased 14%, led by Ocrevus, Hemlibra, Perjeta and Tecentriq. Ocrevus sales were driven by both new and continuing patient demand.
In Europe (-6%), sales were affected by competition from biosimilars for Herceptin (-44%) and MabThera/Rituxan (-38%). This decline was partially offset by the strong growth of Ocrevus, Perjeta, Tecentriq, Alecensa and Hemlibra.
In the International region sales grew 17%, mainly driven by China. In Japan, sales increased 7%, driven by recently launched products, including Tecentriq, Hemlibra and Perjeta. This growth was partially offset by biosimilar competition for MabThera/Rituxan (-50%) and Herceptin (-9%).
Diagnostics Division sales increased 1% to CHF 2.9 billion. Molecular Diagnostics (+7%) was the main contributor, led by the growth of its cervical cancer business. In regional terms, growth was reported in EMEA2 (+3%) and Latin America (+8%). Sales were impacted by one-time supply chain effects in Centralised and Point of Care Solutions in Asia-Pacific and in coagulation monitoring systems in North America.
Important milestones for Roche medicines
In the first quarter, regulatory authorities approved new indications for a number of Roche medicines, granted priority review procedures for and recommended approvals of several Roche drug candidates.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Tecentriq in combination with carboplatin and etoposide (chemotherapy) for the initial (first-line) treatment of adults with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer. This approval is based on results from the phase III IMpower133 study.
The FDA granted accelerated approval to Tecentriq plus chemotherapy (paclitaxel protein-bound particles for injectable suspension) for the treatment of adults with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer in people whose tumours express PD-L1, as determined by an FDA-approved test. This decision is based on progression-free survival (PFS) data from the phase III IMpassion130 study.
The European Commission approved Tecentriq in combination with Avastin, paclitaxel and carboplatin for the first-line treatment of adults with metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), including EGFR mutant or ALK-positive NSCLC after failure of appropriate targeted therapies.
Furthermore, the European Commission approved Hemlibra for routine prophylaxis of bleeding episodes in people with severe haemophilia A without factor VIII inhibitors. Hemlibra can be used in all age groups, and now also at multiple dosing options (once weekly, every two weeks, or every four weeks) for all indicated people with haemophilia A, including those with factor VIII inhibitors.
The FDA approved Herceptin Hylecta (trastuzumab and hyaluronidase-oysk) for subcutaneous (under the skin) injection for the treatment of certain people with HER2-positive early breast cancer in combination with chemotherapy and HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in combination with paclitaxel or alone in people who have received one or more chemotherapy regimens for metastatic disease. This new treatment includes the same monoclonal antibody as intravenous Herceptin in combination with recombinant human hyaluronidase PH20, an enzyme that helps to deliver trastuzumab under the skin.
The European Commission approved MabThera for the treatment of adults with moderate to severe pemphigus vulgaris, a rare condition characterised by progressive painful blistering of the skin and/or mucous membranes. Extensive blistering can lead to serious, life-threatening fluid loss, infection and/or death.
Progress in the product pipeline
The FDA granted priority review for entrectinib for the treatment of adult and paediatric patients with neurotrophic tropomyosin receptor kinase (NTRK) fusion-positive, locally advanced or metastatic solid tumours who have either progressed following prior therapies or as an initial therapy when there are no acceptable standard therapies, and for the treatment of people with metastatic, ROS1-positive NSCLC.
The FDA also granted priority review for polatuzumab vedotin in combination with bendamustine plus MabThera/Rituxan (BR) for the treatment of people with relapsed or refractory (R/R) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
Roche completed the submission of a supplemental Biologics License Application to the FDA for Kadcyla for adjuvant treatment of people with HER2-positive early breast cancer (eBC) with residual disease after neoadjuvant treatment. The FDA is reviewing the application under the Real-Time Oncology Review and Assessment Aid pilot programmes, which aim to explore a more efficient review process to ensure safe and effective treatments are available to patients as early as possible.3
Roche and Spark Therapeutics, Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement for Roche to acquire Spark Therapeutics in full. Spark Therapeutics, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, is a fully integrated company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies for genetic diseases, including blindness, haemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
Commenting on the Group’s sales, Roche CEO Severin Schwan said: “We have started the year with strong sales growth, driven by the newly launched products in our Pharmaceuticals Division. Demand for our new medicines remains high. Health authorities granted a number of important approvals for our medicines in the first quarter. These include the first cancer immunotherapies for triple-negative breast cancer and small cell lung cancer, two diseases with high unmet patient need. Based on our performance in the first quarter, we raise the outlook for the full-year.”
Roche is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. The combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics under one roof have made Roche the leader in personalised healthcare – a strategy that aims to fit the right treatment to each patient in the best way possible.
Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Founded in 1896, Roche continues to search for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and make a sustainable contribution to society. The company also aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. Thirty medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and cancer medicines. Moreover, for the tenth consecutive year, Roche has been recognised as the most sustainable company in the Pharmaceuticals Industry by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).
The Roche Group, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, is active in over 100 countries and in 2018 employed about 94,000 people worldwide. In 2018, Roche invested CHF 11 billion in R&D and posted sales of CHF 56.8 billion. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan.