Swiss Roche posts 7 percent rise in 3Q drug sales

GENEVA -- Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG on Tuesday reported a 7 percent increase in sales of its pharmaceutical products for the first nine months of 2012, powered by demand for its cancer drugs.

The Basel, Switzerland-based company, helped by sales of established and new cancer drugs and recent cost-cutting drives, said its pharmaceutical division's sales over the three quarters rose to 26.2 billion Swiss francs ($28.08 billion), up from 24.4 billion francs in the same time period last year.

The world's biggest producer of cancer-fighting drugs had solid growth in its top three cancer drugs MabThera/Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin, which accounted for 52 percent of all its pharmaceutical division's sales. Roche also benefits from having strong sellers whose patents will not expire soon.

It posted the figures before the opening of the Zurich exchange. Its shares closed Monday at 183.90 francs ($197.13), up nearly 15 percent since the start of the year.

Roche said in a statement that its strong growth in the third quarter was helped by the launch of its new breast cancer medicine Perjeta in the United States and Europe.

CEO Severin Schwan said that its drug development pipeline "has continued to deliver" and the company is on target to meet its goals this year.

The company confirmed its outlook for sales growth would be in the low to middle single-digit range at constant exchange rates this year.