The FINANCIAL — Commenting on the Group’s sales in the first nine months, Roche CEO Severin Schwan said: “Roche is at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 with a growing portfolio of diagnostics solutions, the development of new medicines and a number of partnerships across the industry. With the recent launch of the rapid antigen test, we further strengthened our position as a leading supplier of COVID-19 tests. At the same time, we continue to deliver solutions for patients suffering from other severe diseases. I am particularly pleased about the FDA approvals in the third quarter for three new medicines: Enspryng and Evrysdi for rare diseases, and the cancer medicine Gavreto. After the pandemic-related decline in the second quarter, sales stabilised in the third quarter due to continued strong demand for our new medicines and COVID-19 tests. Based on our current assessment, we confirm the outlook for the full-year.”
Roche’s contributions to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the third quarter:
Outlook confirmed for 2020
Based on the current assessment of the COVID-19 impact, sales are expected to grow in the low- to mid-single digit range, at constant exchange rates. Core earnings per share are targeted to grow broadly in line with sales, at constant exchange rates. Roche expects to increase its dividend in Swiss francs further.
In the first nine months of 2020, Group sales increased 1% to CHF 44.0 billion.
Sales in the Pharmaceuticals Division decreased 1% to CHF 34.3 billion. Sales grew strongly in the first quarter (+7%). As a result of COVID-19, they decreased in the second quarter (-6%) and since summer first signals of recovery are seen (-4% in the third quarter). Key growth drivers were the cancer medicine Tecentriq, the multiple sclerosis medicine Ocrevus, the haemophilia medicine Hemlibra, Actemra/RoActemra in immunology and Perjeta in breast cancer.
With a strong growth of 35% the new medicines generated sales of CHF 13.7 billion and grew by CHF 3.7 billion at constant exchange rates over 2019, more than offsetting the impact of the competition from biosimilars (sales reduction CHF 3.5 billion at constant exchange rates).
In the US, overall sales decreased 4%. While sales of Ocrevus, Hemlibra, Tecentriq, Actemra/RoActemra and Kadcyla increased, the competition from biosimilars for Herceptin, MabThera/Rituxan and Avastin affected total growth as expected. Ocrevus sales increased by 23% and were driven by both new and returning patient demand but partly impacted by COVID-19 effects. Hemlibra sales increased 68%, resulting from the ongoing rollout in the US. Tecentriq sales increased by 46%, driven by the launch in unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) as well as the growth in the new indications extensive stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC) and metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.
In Europe, sales increased 4% as the strong demand for Tecentriq, Ocrevus, Hemlibra, Kadcyla and Perjeta was able to offset the impact of lower sales of Herceptin (-32%), Avastin (-16%) and MabThera/Rituxan (-32%). The first biosimilar versions of Avastin were introduced in Europe in the third quarter of 2020.
In the International region (+6%), growth was mostly driven by Perjeta, Actemra/RoActemra, Alecensa, Tecentriq and Ocrevus, partially offset by the impact of the National Reimbursement Drug List update in China and COVID-19.
Sales decreased in Japan (-6%) as a result of the considerable competition from biosimilars, generics, COVID-19 and government price cuts. This decline was partially compensated by recently launched products including Tecentriq and Hemlibra.
The Diagnostics Division recorded very strong sales growth of 9% to CHF 9.7 billion, with particularly strong growth of 18% in the third quarter. After a 5% increase in the first quarter, momentum slowed to 2% growth in the second quarter as a result of the pandemic. The overall very strong sales growth is primarily due to the industry-leading portfolio of new COVID-19 tests. The Molecular Diagnostics business made the largest contribution (+77%) with PCR tests for COVID-19. Sales of diagnostic solutions for SARS-CoV-2 developed only this year clearly exceeded COVID-19 related declines in routine diagnostics sales. Additional product launches in the third quarter, including the SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid test, further strengthened Roche’s position as the world’s leading supplier of COVID-19 tests.
Growth was reported in North America (+22%), EMEA3 (+9%), Latin America (+12%) and Japan (+5%). In the Asia-Pacific region (-4%), sales were heavily impacted by the pandemic, especially in China. Overall, demand was impacted by COVID-19 in all regions since the second quarter. Routine testing decreased significantly due to a decline in regular health checks while emergency and SARS-CoV-2 testing increased significantly.
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