Roche Chairman Christoph Franz remains confident the Swiss drugmaker can offset revenue declines from patent expired medicines with new drugs, according to an interview published on Sunday in the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.
“When I look at the number of medicines we have launched over the past two years, then we’re on the right track,” Franz told the newspaper. “We’ve had six medicines approved by regulators over this time period.”
Among the drugs Franz includes in this group are multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus, cancer immunotherapy Tecentriq and hemophilia medicine Hemlibra, all of which are expected to have peak sales of well over $1 billion annually.
Roche is counting on these and other medicines to help replace revenue from its $20 billion-per-year trio of Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan whose patents have expired or will shortly, exposing them to cheaper competition.
Franz also told the newspaper that the United States, where prices for drugs are among the world’s highest, is supporting the bulk of the research and development cost for new, innovative drugs.
Asked if U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge this year to tackle high drug prices will have an impact, Franz acknowledged that there could be a hit to the “innovation premium” that U.S. insurers and other funders pay for new drugs in America.
Radical changes to the model governing how medicines are reimbursed in the United States would likely lead to job cuts, he said.
“To put it bluntly, if the Americans were to adopt the Swiss price system, Roche would have to cut thousands of research jobs, also in Switzerland,” Franz said.
By John Miller
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Sanofi has ended a long-running alliance with Sangamo Therapeutics to develop genetic medicines for inherited blood disorders, among them an experimental sickle cell disease therapy that is in early clinical testing.
The two have been developing complex, personalized treatments, led by a sickle cell drug known as SAR445136. But Sanofi is now more interested in off-the-shelf approaches, which are meant to be more convenient.