Roche COO O'Day highlights 'good growth' in emerging markets on Q2 call

Roche CEO Severin Schwan

For the second quarter Roche ($RHHBY) on a July 23 earnings call saw CEO Severin Schwan speak about the cancer immunotherapy pipeline at some length, but his two chief operating officers provided details on emerging markets.

Roche uses 6-month views and does not break out quarterly numbers, though executives talk about trends in the quarter.

Dan O'Day, chief operating officer, said that internationally the business unit showed "good growth particularly in Latin America, also Turkey and Korea. Japan, the entire portfolio, oncology, immunology really growing nicely in all indications at plus 7%."

Roche COO Daniel O'Day

He did take some time out to talk specifically about Herceptin in emerging markets and access, a key issue for the company as reports suggest the Indian government has mulled a compulsory license for the drug.

"And Herceptin internationally is 14% growth, which I think demonstrates that our access programs in the emerging markets are really starting to take hold in countries like Brazil, like Turkey, where we have growth of 19% and 17% respectively. And in China, where we have growth of 21% on Herceptin."

In June, Roche dropped prices for certain government clinics in India for hepatitis C drug Exxura by 65%, according to the Business Standard, citing a local company executive.

Subsequently, O'Day addressed a question on biosimilars and pointed to Herceptin as a drug that would be hard to ease out of reimbursement programs through sharply lower pricing because of the complexity of manufacture and treatment.

"With Herceptin (subq) we're in around 44, 45 countries right now and, within that framework of countries, we have a market share that's growing, but it's at a little over 30% at this stage," O'Day said.

"I think this gives us a real advantage as biosimilars come out, in terms of savings for the healthcare system with biosimilar pricing in that we don't expect in any way to be like small molecule pricing," he added.

In oncology, he noted Avastin showed 27% growth in the second quarter.

"LatAm, especially Brazil, we're increasing the market access there," he said, adding: "We had very good growth as well in China, and we now have the approval in China for first line non-small cell lung cancer, which will be expected to grow Avastin further in China in the second half and beyond."

Roland Diggelmann, chief operating officer of diagnostics, noted that emerging markets growth rates outpaced developed regions.

"APAC (Asia-Pacific) and Latin America good growth across the board. In particular China, with a 24% growth rate for the first six months, but also good growth in countries such as Turkey and India."

- here's the release and call