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Roche: 6 percent sales boost in first 9 months

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JOHN HEILPRIN | October 17, 2013 02:33 AM EST | AP

GENEVA — GENEVA (AP) — Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG on Thursday reported a 6 percent increase in overall sales for the first nine months of the year helped by strong demand for its established and new cancer drugs.

The Basel, Switzerland-based company said that its group sales over three quarters rose to 34.9 billion Swiss francs ($38.2 billion), up from 33.7 billion francs in the same time period last year.

On a quarterly basis, Roche said it had 11.6 billion francs in sales in the July-September quarter, up 8 percent from the 11.3 billion francs in the comparable quarter last year.

The world's biggest producer of cancer-fighting drugs reported it had strong growth in the third quarter from sales of cancer medicines Avastin, Herceptin, MabThera/Rituxan, Perjeta and Kadcyla, as well as rheumatoid arthritis treatment Actemra/RoActemra.

Roche CEO Severin Schwan said before the opening of the Zurich exchange that demand for its products has been strong across divisions.

"We will meet our full-year targets," he said. "I am very encouraged by the uptake of our new cancer medicines, Perjeta and Kadcyla, which significantly improve the survival rates of patients with a very aggressive form of breast cancer."

The sales of Avastin, which is used for several advanced forms of cancer, were particularly strong, the company said. It notched a 16 percent sales rise in Europe that the company said was due to its growing use in ovarian and colorectal cancers.

Roche also benefits from having several strong sellers whose patents will not expire soon, unlike many of its major competitors seeking the next blockbuster.