Roche exec expects 'limited' rebound for pharma

Don't look for a fabulous rebound in drug sales once the patent cliff is past. So says Roche COO Pascal Soriot, who expects a paltry 2% to 3% growth in the U.S. market and stagnant sales in Europe over the next three to 5 years. Roche ($RHHBY) hopes its own growth will match the market in U.S. and Europe but outpace overall growth in emerging markets, Soriot told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

The post-patent cliff recovery will be "fairly limited," Soriot said in the Le Temps interview (as quoted by Bloomberg). And Roche's expectations aren't out of line with researchers' estimations of market growth. IMS Health's most recent comprehensive report on pharma market growth cited U.S. expansion of 3% or less through 2015. IMS pegged European growth at 1% to 4%, but that was last May, before some of the most onerous European price cuts were announced.

Emerging markets, of course, are the growth standouts; IMS expects drug spending to all but double in the 17 "pharmerging" markets, with up to 22% growth in China and around 15% in Brazil, India and Russia combined.

Roche grew 34% in China last year, Soriot told Le Temps, and created 770 jobs there along the way. One way Roche is trying to beat the odds and surpass market-growth levels in emerging markets is by testing out various pricing strategies, another Swiss newspaper, Tages Anzeiger, reported, citing Chairman Franz Humer. In Le Temps, Soriot cited growth in private insurance for catastrophic care, such as cancer care, as something that Roche is aiming to push along in China and Russia.

- read the Bloomberg piece
- see the Q&A in Le Temps (in French, reg. req.)