Roche's breast cancer franchise keeps delivering, with huge jumps for Perjeta, Kadcyla

Blame a strong Swiss franc on any falling sales and profits Roche ($RHHBY) put up in the first half of 2014, the company said Thursday. The Swiss pharma's cancer drugs certainly didn't cause the decline, with newcomers Perjeta and Kadcyla helping power the group with especially noteworthy revenue gains.

According to Roche, first-half profit slumped 7% thanks to the strength of the Swiss currency, with sales sinking 1%. Those drops negated sales growth from the company's treatments for HER2-positive breast cancer, including Kadcyla sales that almost tripled and a Perjeta haul that nearly quadrupled.

"We had a good first half, driven mainly by our cancer medicines, especially the new breast cancer medicines, Perjeta and Kadcyla," CEO Severin Schwan said in a statement.

Helvea analyst Odile Rundquist told Bloomberg the uptake of the new drugs was the highlight of Roche's announcement, with Perjeta making a 276% leap to 388 million francs for and Kadcyla sales rising 188% to hit 277 million francs.

Both drugs have been cruising since their recent arrivals on the scene. Perjeta, designed for use in tandem with stalwart Herceptin, nabbed FDA approval in June of 2012, following up the next year with an historic indication for pre-surgery treatment. Kadcyla, also known as "Herceptin-plus," rolled out last February and pulled in 83 million Swiss francs in the first half of the year.

Roche will need those fast-growing stars if a biosimilar of Herceptin hits, which pharma chief Daniel O'Day told investors could happen as soon as 2016, The Wall Street Journal notes.

But Roche also has a stable of other oncology moneymakers to soften the blow, and some of those are on the upswing, too. Sales of Rituxan and Avastin--the No. 1 and 2-selling cancer drugs in the world, respectively--expanded in H1 to help overall sales reach 22.97 billion Swiss francs, the company said.

- read Roche's release
- get more from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)
- see Bloomberg's take

Special Reports: Top 10 pharma companies by 2013 revenue - Roche | Top 15 drug launch superstars - Kadcyla | Top 10 best-selling cancer drugs of 2013 - Rituxan/MabThera - Avastin

Suggested Articles

Johnson & Johnson faces a litany of problems, but executives are clearly not concerned—at least not about the company's short-term fortunes.

This week, Goldman Sachs resurrected a burning question: How can pharma companies profit from curing patients with one-time gene and cell therapies?

CMS has determined how it'll pay for Gilead's CAR-T cancer therapy, Yescarta, for outpatient use, but hasn't yet decided on Gilead's…