The DJSI again recognised Roche as the most sustainable company in the healthcare industry for the seventh consecutive year. Roche scored highest in the management of environmental and social topics, and with more than 100 new business partnerships established last year, DJSI also noted Roche’s strong culture of collaboration, broad approach to innovation, and commitment to furthering patient access to healthcare.
In Pharmaceuticals, the oncology and immunology products drove the division's sales for the first nine months. Sales of the HER2-positive breast cancer medicines, Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla, grew 19%. The outlook for this franchise was further strengthened in July after the European Commission approved Perjeta combination therapy for use before surgery. Avastin (+9%) and MabThera/Rituxan (+5%) also recorded continued strong growth.
In immunology, Actemra/RoActemra (+22%), which is used mainly to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and Xolair (+25%), which is now used in the treatment of chronic hives as well as asthma, grew again significantly. Sales of anti-viral medicine Valcyte and oral chemotherapy Xeloda declined as these medicines are no longer patent protected. Sales of hepatitis medicine Pegasys and eye treatment Lucentis dropped as a result of increased competition.
Strong demand for Esbriet, a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a fatal lung disease, continued throughout the third quarter and sales totalled CHF 386 million in the first nine months. In September, additional data were presented from a pooled analysis of three phase III studies that suggested a reduction in treatment-emergent risk of death for IPF patients on Esbriet for more than two years.2 In the same month, Esbriet received approval in Switzerland.
Recently, key milestones were achieved for Roche’s Cotellic (cobimetinib) for use in combination with Zelboraf in advanced melanoma. The company announced final phase III data showing a significant increase in overall survival, and in September, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended EU approval for Cotellic plus Zelboraf for the treatment of patients with BRAF V600 mutation-positive metastatic melanoma. This combination therapy was approved in Switzerland in August and a US FDA decision is anticipated by the end of the year.
Commenting on the Group's first nine months, Roche CEO Severin Schwan said: "With sales continuing to grow strongly, we are raising our outlook for the full year. I am very pleased about the positive newsflow coming from our product pipeline. This includes data on our cancer immunotherapy medicine atezolizumab in bladder and lung cancer and, in particular, strong data on ocrelizumab in both relapsing and primary progressive forms of MS. These medicines have the potential to make a big difference to people living with these terrible diseases."
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and neuroscience. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Roche's personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostics that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. Founded in 1896, Roche has been making important contributions to global health for more than a century. Twenty-nine medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and chemotherapy.
In 2014, the Roche Group employed 88,500 people worldwide, invested 8.9 billion Swiss francs in R&D and posted sales of 47.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan.