Roche sees Tamiflu sales continuing in 2009

24th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant expects to sell another CHF 1 billion of the anti-flu drug by the end of 2009.

Basel -- Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche said Thursday it would sell another CHF 1 billion (EUR 658 million, USD 937 million) of anti-flu drug Tamiflu by the end of 2009, having already sold a similar amount so far this year.

Roche chief executive Severin Schwan told journalists the group expected to sell "around one billion (Swiss) francs" more of the anti-flu drug.

They had already sold about that much between January and June 2009.

Tamiflu sales were slowing in 2008, reaching just CHF 609 million for the full year.

But following the emergence of the A(H1N1) virus and its rapid spread around the world to pandemic levels, sales of the drug soared 203 percent in the first half of 2009.

Sales to governments and corporations stockpiling the drug reached CHF 653 million during the first six months of the year, the company said.

Tamiflu is one of two drugs recommended by the World Health Organisation to treat the flu.

"Additional government stockpiling orders and increased demand in the retail pharmacy market contributed to the particularly strong sales recorded in the second quarter," it added.

Sales to Japan, for instance, leapt 1,510 percent while those to Europe increased 869 percent.

The WHO said on Tuesday that the death toll worldwide from swine flu since the outbreak was first identified in Mexico in April had jumped above 700, 40 percent up from early July.

Isolated cases of Tamiflu-resistant A(H1N1) turned up in several countries including the United States and Japan, but the WHO has repeated that the drug was recommended to treat the disease.

Governments have moved to stockpile Tamiflu and Roche said it would be increasing its production capacity of the drug to 400 million packs annually by 2010.

Publishing its first half earnings statement on Thursday, the group also "substantially raised" its earnings forecasts.

Full-year sales for both its pharmaceutical and diagnostics divisions would grow "well ahead of market", it said.

In the first half, overall sales reached CHF 24 billion, up 9.0 percent, said the group.

Net profit was however down 29 percent to CHF 4.1 billion due to charges related to the acquisition of Genentech.

Bank Helvea analyst Karl-Heinz Koch described Roche's earnings as "substantially above expectations" and rated the stock a "buy".

The upgraded outlook for 2010 did not even include sales for Tamiflu, even though "Tamiflu is a swing factor for 2010," he noted.

At 11h30 GMT, the stock was trading up 2.5 percent at CHF 158.40, outperforming the overall Swiss Market Index which was up 0.63 percent.

AFP / Expatica

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