Once again, Roche breast cancer franchise shines, sending Q3 drug sales up 4%

Roche ($RHHBY) can thank its newly augmented breast cancer portfolio for powering third-quarter sales upward, far enough to surpass analyst estimates. And given the latest data on one of those drugs--Perjeta--more growth could be at hand.

The Swiss drugmaker turned in sales of 11.78 billion francs, or about $12.5 billion, which beat last year's results by 5%, apart from currency effects. Diagnostics grew at a slightly faster clip than pharma did, at 6%. Overall, the sales growth beat analysts' estimates, Reuters says.

Besides the breast cancer treatments, which also include Herceptin, the $6.5 billion blockbuster that's among the top selling cancer drugs in the world--Roche's pharma business got a lift from its rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra and its asthma drug Xolair, recently approved in the U.S. to treat chronic hives.

Roche has been working to diversify beyond its oncology portfolio as patent expirations near for its top drugs, and biosimilars work their way toward the market. One of its efforts was the recent buyout of InterMune, which brought along the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treatment Esbriet. It's a potential blockbuster--and Roche announced its approval this morning along with its earnings.

Meanwhile, Roche was trumpeting the latest data on Perjeta, presented at last month's European Society of Medical Oncology Meeting, for anyone who might have missed it. Launched in 2012, the drug helped half of patients live at least 15.7 months longer than patients in the control group, the study data showed. In the world of metastatic, HER2-positive breast cancer, that's a whopping result--and it's likely to help Roche put Perjeta sales on the fast track, partly by overcoming any payer skepticism.

- see the release from Roche
- get the story from Reuters

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