Roche Holding sales disappoint as drugs decline eclipses Covid-19 tests



Roche Holding AG’s third-quarter sales fell short of estimates as a boost from Covid-19 tests and new medicines weren’t enough to offset a decline from aging prescription drugs.


The Swiss drugmaker’s revenue rose 1% to 14.7 billion francs ($16.1 billion), the company said. Analysts expected sales of 15.4 billion francs, according to the average of eight estimates. The stock dropped as much as 2% in Zurich trading.



Roche has forged partnerships and used its diagnostics unit to get into the market for tests and potential treatments for Covid-19, helping it counteract a more challenging environment for its older medicines. These medicines face competition from cheaper copies called biosimilars even as some patients delay doctor’s visits on pandemic concerns.


“It was another tough three months for Roche,” Wimal Kapadia, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, wrote in a note.


The sales drop for a trio of key older drugs accelerated last quarter. Revenue from breast cancer drug Herceptin plummeted 38%. Sales from Avastin and Rituxan, treatments for cancer and arthritis, respectively, sank by about one-third.


The antibody cocktail Roche is developing with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. to treat Covid-19 may start delivering soon after the U.S. company asked regulators there to authorize it for emergency use earlier this month. President Donald Trump took the experimental drug under a compassionate use program after becoming sick with the coronavirus.


The company said pharmaceuticals sales will probably recover in the fourth quarter.

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