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Roche aiming to launch 6 new products by end 2014

2010-03-18 10
   
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résuméZURICH Roche Holding AG is aiming to launch at least six new products by the end of 2014 and is seeking to further boost its position in areas outside oncology, the Swiss drugmaker said ahead of its investor day. Roche, the world's largest maker of c
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Roche aiming to launch 6 new products by end 2014


ZURICH Roche Holding AG is aiming to launch at least six new products by the end of 2014 and is seeking to further boost its position in areas outside oncology, the Swiss drugmaker said ahead of its investor day.

Roche, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs, is aiming to build up its strength in the therapeutic areas of metabolism, inflammation and diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) as it tries to expand its product portfolio.

Investors are looking to the group for reassurance about its pipeline strength after a number of setbacks and after its cancer drug sales fell short of expectations for last year.

At 1008 GMT (6:08 a.m. ET), Roche stock was trading 0.7 percent higher at 174.90, largely in line with a stronger STOXX European healthcare sector index.

CANCER MEDICINES KEY

Roche said cancer drugs Avastin, MabThera and Herceptin, as well as arthritis medicine Actemra would drive short-term growth, adding in slides that it may file 35 line extensions of existing products, including blockbuster Avastin, by 2014.

"Roche will focus on its diversification strategy to increase revenues in non-oncology such as metabolic disorders and CNS," Vontobel analyst Silvia Schanz said.

"However the oncology pipeline remains an important contributor with the BRAF drug in melanoma and pertuzumab in breast cancer to be a topic," she said.

Roche still expects Avastin, which slipped at recent hurdles in gastric and prostate cancer, could reach peak sales of between 8 billion and 9 billion Swiss francs ($7.56 billion and $8.51 billion).

Many analysts believe it could be the world's biggest-selling drug in a few years time.

Avastin, which works by starving tumors of blood, is a flagship for Roche, given its potential to treat new types of cancer, and is already approved to treat colorectal, breast, kidney and lung cancer.

"Avastin remains a major source of Roche's growth despite having been on the market since 2004 and despite recent failures in prostate cancer and gastric cancer," analysts at Bernstein said in a note.

"In our forecasts, it accounts for around a quarter of Roche's growth between now and 2015. The forecast growth comes mainly from ovarian and breast cancer indications, with a little help from geographic catch up," they said.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Chief Executive Severin Schwan said Roche's experimental drugs to treat melanoma and raise "good" HDL cholesterol could transform treatment of cancer and heart disease.

($1=1.058 Swiss Franc)

(Editing by Hans Peters and Rupert Winchester)

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