Roche Pharmaceuticals has reported a 3% increase in group sales to $16.247bn in the first quarter of 2021 at constant exchange rates. In the pharmaceuticals division, sales witnessed a 9% decline to $11.558bn, primarily due to the continued biosimilars competition and the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic only started to have a considerable business impact at Roche pharmaceuticals as of April last year and the first quarter of this year was particularly challenging due to base effects.Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche said that in 2021, the company is strongly committed to the fight against Coronavirus. The uptake of our recently introduced diagnostic tests and medicines remains strong while we continue to see the expected impact from biosimilars on sales of our established medicines.
Roche Pharmaceuticals noted that the impact of biosimilars on sales of the established cancer medicines MabThera/Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin remained significant, specifically in the US. Shares in the Basel, Switzerland-based pharmaceutical titan, which is a leading provider of cancer treatments, rose 1.5% in Zurich trading.
Sales in Roche pharmaceuticals division, which contributes to more than two-thirds of group revenue, fell 9% at constant currencies from 2020 levels to CHF10.6 billion. While new medicines experienced strong growth, the division took a CHF1.6 billion sales hit from competition from cancer biosimilars, which are rival versions of its off-patent drugs.