Roche sales surpass Novartis'

Roche

Eat dust, Novartis. Roche just posted sales of $42.2 billion, $2.4 billion more than its Swiss rival's $39.8 billion. Strong sales of its cancer drugs helped boost profits by 25 percent to $10.48 billion. The rheumatoid arthritis and lymphoma treatment Rituxan alone delivered revenues of $5 billion, becoming the company's best-selling drug ahead of cancer meds Herceptin and Avastin.

The outlook for 2008 isn't all rosy, however. Tamiflu sales, which dropped 19 percent to $1.9 billion in 2007, will continue to fall off, and Herceptin growth is expected to slow, too. Overall, sales growth will drop to the single digits--and this after seven consecutive years of double-digit increases.

It's flush with cash, though, which it plans to use to accelerate R&D spending and to acquire small to medium-sized companies; it's looking primarily in the diagnostics area, but also would consider small pharma deals. Mega-mergers, however, aren't in the cards, CEO Franz Humer said. Of course, Roche has its Ventana deal to wrap up by the second half of 2008.

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