Roche CEO Severin Schwan

3. Roche ($RHHBY)
2014 revenue: 47.462 billion Swiss francs ($49.86 billion)
2013 revenue: 46.78 billion Swiss francs ($48.53 billion)

Roche has long looked to its cancer franchise to boost its bottom line, and the company scored with old and new products in 2014. Sales for HER2-positive breast cancer fighters Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla shot up 20% in 2014, fueled by increased global demand. Perjeta and Kadcyla chalked up promising numbers, with sales of 633 million Swiss francs and 371 million francs for the first 9 months of the year.

But the Swiss pharma giant is moving past cancer drugs and focusing on other therapeutic areas, including asthma and pulmonology. In August 2014, the company laid down $8.3 billion for InterMune ($ITMN) to add the drugmaker's idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug Esbriet (pirfenidone) to its respiratory stable. CEO Severin Schwan said at the time that the deal would "complement Roche's strengths in pulmonary therapy," including asthma treatment Xolair and cystic fibrosis med Pulmozyme.

Roche also snagged key FDA approvals last year for cancer blockbuster Avastin, expanding the drug's label for cervical cancer and for use with chemotherapy for platinum-resistant recurrent ovarian cancer. In 2013, sales of the med shot up 13% on the back of ovarian cancer sales in Europe and increased use in colorectal cancer in Europe and the U.S. The Basel-based drugmaker saw a 6% spike in Avastin sales in 2014 after gaining the new approvals, which stemmed from increased demand for the med to treat colorectal, cervical and ovarian cancers.

Meanwhile, Roche is focusing on cancer R&D with 7 investigational medicines for 5 types of cancer under development. The company has already chalked up promising early results for its anti-PDL1 drug in combination with Avastin in renal cell carcinoma.

And while Schwan has said that R&D remains the drugmaker's top priority, new deals for smaller pharma and biotech could restock its pipeline as older blockbusters near the patent cliff. Over the summer, the company agreed to pay up to $1.7 billion for Seragon Pharmaceuticals to gain access to its buzzed-about breast cancer program. In December, Roche snatched up prenatal testing outfit Ariosa Diagnostics, expanding its market reach and bolstering its diagnostics franchise.

-- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

For more:
Roche misses the mark in 2014 despite sales wins
Roche ready to roll on InterMune's lung drug with $8.6B buyout deal
Roche's breast cancer franchise keeps delivering, with huge jumps for Perjeta, Kadcyla
Roche CEO: No appetite for expensive megadeals here
Roche cancer drugs Perjeta and Kadcyla drive strong Q1 results


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