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Roche reports very strong results in 2018

Sales growth was driven by innovative new medicines and demand for immunodiagnostic solutions.

Key figures demonstrate business success in 2018

In 2018, Roche achieved very good growth in both divisions. I am particularly pleased with the very strong demand for our new medicines, delivering significant benefit for patients fighting serious diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis and haemophilia. Roche is also making major progress in driving digitalisation, and in leveraging real-world healthcare data and analytics to support product development and advance personalised healthcare. Based on the successful launches and our strong product pipeline Roche is well positioned for continued growth.

Severin Schwan CEO Roche

At a glance

Roche has one of the best product pipelines in the industry. In 2018 alone, we invested CHF 11 billion in its development. We are a leader in oncology, we have a growing number of neuroscience projects and immunology is performing well. Over the last six years, the US Food and Drug Administration granted breakthrough therapy designations to no fewer than 24 of Roche’s active ingredients, six in 2018 alone. This is an achievement we are proud of. In addition, expedited review status has been granted to a number of our drug candidates by health authorities, including three major regulators in the US, EU and Japan.

CHF 56.8 billion
Sales: Roche Group
2018 100% 56.8 bn +7%*
2017 94% 53.3 bn
CHF 44.0 billion
Sales: Roche Pharma
2018 100% 44.0 bn +7%
2017 94% 41.2 bn
CHF 12.9 billion
Sales: Diagnostics
2018 100% 12.9 bn +7%
2017 94% 12.1 bn
CHF 11.0 billion
Core investments: Research and development
2018 100% 11.0 bn +6%
2017 94% 10.4 bn
CHF 20.5 billion
Core operating profit
2018 100% 20.5 bn +9%
2017 93% 19.0 bn
CHF 8.70 per share and non-voting equity security
2018 100% CHF 8.70
2017 95% CHF 8.30
* CER = Constant Exchange Rates (average full year 2017)

The neurologist in your pocket

Shedding more light on multiple sclerosis through your smartphone.

Smart solutions to better understand MS

Floodlight supports our medical strategy by helping us to better understand progression in multiple sclerosis. Importantly, it has the potential to support patients living with an unpredictable disease, and it’s all done collaboratively with leading institutions, registries and patient associations.

Dr Alexander Kulla Disease Area Head Multiple Sclerosis in Product Development Medical Affairs

365 days living with a disease Every dot on this graph represents a day in the life of a person living with MS

Day with weak symptoms
Day with a visit to the clinic/physician
Day with stronger symptoms
Recall period for symptoms

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is unpredictable and uncertain. Despite advances in imaging, our ability to measure the impact of the disease has not changed much for decades and is usually based on visits to the clinic that take place just once or twice a year.

Did you know?

Roche has created Floodlight, a research programme to measure the disease on a daily basis through specially designed smartphone-based tests for cognition, hand motor function and mobility. This ‘neurologist in your pocket’ programme also includes Floodlight Open, Roche’s first open access study in which anyone can enrol and where each data point from each person contributes to a unique and open dataset designed to help move MS research forward.


Quick daily questions aimed at understanding the patient’s feelings, mood and well-being. Cognitive tasks that require the matching of different shapes help measure information processing speed.


Hand motor function tasks designed by physicians to measure manual dexterity, strength and precision over time.


Walking and posture tasks measure changes in mobility, stability, speed and balance.

Passive monitoring

Passive monitoring makes it possible to detect incremental changes in the way a patient moves during the day. Gathering information on activity helps to understand how the current health condition affects the patient’s life.

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A glimpse into the future:

Roche continues to focus on disease areas with significant medical need−one of them being lung cancer. We are committed to developing new medicines and tests that can help in the treatment of people with this deadly disease.


million Patients treated with our medicines


New molecules in clinical development

From microscopes to digital diagnostics

Transforming patient care through innovative digital pathology solutions.

Enabling faster diagnoses

Our digital pathology solutions produce results that are robust, reproducible and consistent. This brings patients faster, more reliable diagnoses and information that clinicians can quickly share and act upon.

Michael Rivers Lifecycle Leader, Roche Digital Pathology
Better patient outcomes begin with a faster and more accurate diagnosis, now possible with digitised diagnostic technology. In traditional anatomic pathology, tissue is thinly sliced, stained with specialised reagents and then analysed under a microscope by a pathologist who makes a diagnosis. Digital pathology employs a device to capture entire slide images to enable digital review of the patient case. Image analysis algorithms based on artificial intelligence provide quantitative results that support the decision of the pathologist.

Did you know?

At Roche, our commitment to the digitalisation of pathology includes substantial investments in an end-to-end digital pathology solution as well as becoming a Centre of Excellence for the development of automated analysis tools based on artificial intelligence. This includes advanced imaging and artificial intelligence tools, such as computer vision, machine learning and deep learning. This enables the rapid classification of each cell on the tissue and provides highly accurate and standardised results. This also streamlines the process of gathering vast amounts of data and empowers pathologists to reach a more comprehensive and accurate diagnosis quickly.

The rapid increase in data availability provides a range of opportunities to put information to work for patients. Digital pathology promises to expand the benefits of pathology to areas previously without access to these services.

Achievements in 2018

Roche offers the uPath enterprise software, a universal digital pathology software for lab administrators, histotechnicians and pathologists. This software allows for improved case management, including case sharing among colleagues to seek second opinions. More importantly, uPath enables pathologists with patient-centric case viewing for quick diagnosis and will provide a platform for a full menu of image analysis algorithms currently under development.


billion tests conducted with Diagnostics products


US FDA Breakthrough Device Designations granted for Roche tests

Glimpse into the future

Roche envisions that digital pathology technologies will expand and, in time, become the global standard for anatomic pathology excellence as labs move to fully digitised tissue testing. As assay complexity increases, automated image analysis will become increasingly important in the workflow of pathologists.

We will work towards surmounting the technological challenges presented by the tremendous size of images utilised in digital pathology, which can run up to a full gigabyte or more. Making advancements in efficiently analysing, managing, moving and storing these images continues to be a top priority.

Shining a light into the dark

New insights for cancer of unknown primary origin and dementia.

Advanced data analytics for better care

By analysing many more comprehensive datasets I am sure that we can discover and develop better medical solutions and tailor those solutions much more to the individual patient.

Severin Schwan CEO Roche Group

Understanding cancer biology at its molecular level has led to the development of targeted, more effective therapies. However, cancer of unknown primary (CUP) origin is still a devastating diagnosis, with no approved treatments available. About 3−5% of all cancer diagnoses fall into this category, and the overall survival in such patients is extremely low. A new clinical study concept represents a shift away from treating cancer based on its site of origin to treating it based on its genomic alterations which eventually drive cancer growth. The Roche study includes a virtual molecular tumour board which is a first of its kind. The board will review genomic profiling and clinical findings to support identification of more effective treatments.

Dementia is another serious healthcare challenge. It impacts more than 46 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to double every 20 years.¹ A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the leading cause of dementia, is typically based on clinical symptoms. Often, patients are only diagnosed when the disease has already advanced. These symptom-based diagnoses are accurate in only 70−80% of cases.² As with cancer, diagnosing Alzheimer’s early is important to better understand the disease, design clinical trials and also to identify patients who could be included in the trials. An improved diagnosis of AD represents a key focus of our research.


billion (CHF) R&D core investments


Roche medicines on the WHO List of Essential Medicines


1. Alzheimer’s Disease International. World Alzheimer Report 2015 [Internet; cited 2015]. Available from: Last accessed January 2019.

2. Gaugler JE, et al. Characteristics of patients misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their medication use: an analysis of the NACC-UDS database. BMC Geriatrics. 2013;13;137. Last accessed January 2019.

Empowering patients through digitalisation

Controlling diabetes by using modern technologies instead of being controlled.

Integrated approaches for a complex disease

I grew up with diabetes in the days when blood glucose meters were much bigger, a test took over two minutes and I had to take insulin shots eight times a day. But times have changed, and so has diabetes care with all the digital transformation that is happening around us.

Ilka Gdanietz Austria
Diabetes is truly a data-driven condition. A person living with diabetes has to make around 50 therapy decisions a day, monitor parameters such as blood glucose levels and carbohydrate intake as well as calculate the right amount of insulin units. These tasks require not only a lot of time and effort on top of a person’s normal life, often people with diabetes feel overwhelmed and left alone with the decisions they have to make.

Did you know?

The digitalisation in diabetes management aims at easing people’s lives, providing therapy decision support and coaching while helping to improve control and quality of life. Sensors implanted under the skin measure glucose levels for up to 180 days and send the data in real-time to smart devices. Simultaneously, pumps connected to the body constantly deliver insulin.

Some apps store all such therapy relevant data in one place, help detect variations and abnormalities in blood glucose levels that require extra attention. Such apps will also be part of Roche’s Intelligent Patient Platform. This open platform intends to connect patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and payers and integrates various apps and devices also from partners. It further intends to support people with diabetes by analysing therapy-relevant data and enabling them to get directly in touch with doctors or caregivers for advice and share experiences with others. Moreover, the large amounts of data collected either anonymised or with patients consent can help researchers to understand the disease better, personalise treatments and optimise outcomes.

Achievements in 2018

Empowering people with diabetes to control the condition instead of being controlled by it represents a typical example of the mindset embedded at all levels of Roche: Innovating to improve people’s lives and helping them to experience true relief from daily therapy routines. This is at the core of what we do and also an integral part of our sustainability strategy.

In 2018, Roche was recognised as Group Leader in sustainability within the Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences Industry index of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the tenth consecutive year. For Roche, this is a commitment to continue operating our business responsibly, holistically and with a long-term perspective. In doing so, our most important contribution to society is the development of medicines and diagnostics that significantly improve people’s lives.


years in a row ranked as most sustainable healthcare company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices


years annual International Experience Exchange for Patient Organisations

A Glimpse into the Future

Collaborating with caregivers, healthcare providers, payers and partners, Roche will continue to develop solutions to optimally manage this complex condition and contribute to sustainable healthcare structures. In collaboration with partners, we are creating value by providing integrated solutions to monitor glucose levels, deliver insulin and track as well as contextualise important data points for a successful therapy. We envision optimal personalised diabetes management and improved therapy outcomes by establishing a leading open ecosystem, connecting devices and digital solutions.

Our people

Making a meaningful difference for patients each day.

Dedicated talents innovating for patients

With a range of initiatives, including Code4Life, we are increasing our footprint in the digital space and creating awareness early on, so that digital talents know how impactful their work could be within Roche

Jana Herrmann Head of Talent Acquisition, Roche Basel, Switzerland

Did you know?

At Roche, more than 94,000 employees are making a meaningful difference each day, and are helping to ensure that we continue to innovate for the benefit of patients. Technology is driving our innovation and the digital transformation at Roche has led to a diverse range of career opportunities for scientific and technical talent.

Meet here some of our people and learn about their impact:

Hugo Bioinformatics Research Expert

Biomedical data are being generated at an unprecedented rate.

HugoBioinformatics Research Expert

With rapid advances in sequencing, biomedical data are being generated at an unprecedented rate. A good sequencing machine nowadays generates more than half a terabyte of data daily. To transform this gigantic information into meaningful insights and succeed in personalised healthcare, it requires an end-to-end solution, ie, from sample preparation to data interpretation, and relies on deep domain expertise as well as highly efficient and accurate computational solutions. Our data science goes from diving into primary sequencing signals to data mining large-scale cohorts for medical insights.

Click here to learn more about jobs at Roche in this field

Jennifer Principal System Engineer

I like to describe my department as a start-up within a large company.

JenniferPrincipal System Engineer

My team is working on automating nucleic acid extraction and library preparation workflows using liquid handling instrumentation. Automation and instrumentation offer decreased hands-on time, incidence of errors, and variability. With the increased need to utilise next-generation sequencing technologies for personalised healthcare, we will need to provide simple, elegant solutions to complex workflows. Our team can hopefully drive us to that solution and bring benefit to many in the future. Because of the way we work, I like to describe my department as a start-up within a large company.

Click here to learn more about jobs at Roche in this field

Eldad Imaging Scientist

I think the magic happens when people with different areas of expertise and varied experiences meet.

EldadImaging Scientist

My job includes implementing cutting-edge computer vision and machine learning technologies for the analysis of pathology biopsy images. These algorithms can help in detecting objects in the tissue, such as tumour areas, and different cell types and predictive features for patient response. I get the opportunity to work on projects involving people with different areas of expertise such as biologists, oncologists and pathologists. I think the magic happens when people with different areas of expertise and varied experiences meet. As a team, we work to convert all the knowledge from different fields into new medicines for patients.

Click here to learn more about jobs at Roche in this field

Josep Connectivity Programme Lead

Connectivity and integration is the key to success in personalised healthcare.

JosepConnectivity Programme Lead

The digital age has come to healthcare. Connectivity and integration is the key to success in personalised healthcare and in the field of in-vitro diagnostics (IVD). Our team develops the connectivity modules that provide workflow automation and enable the exchange of medical data between IVD instruments. We also provide IT solutions for customers, large commercial and hospital laboratories. Highly skilled software engineers focus on cutting-edge technologies and solutions that enable the exchange and processing of medical data anytime and anywhere for patients.

Click here to learn more about jobs at Roche in this field

Achievements in 2018

The introduction of the People Practices continued through the year, and a new HR platform was launched. The campaign− It’s Personal−used employee stories to show our commitment to a diverse and inclusive work environment. Additionally, we reached our five-year gender diversity goal a year early.

Over 140 sites participated in the Global Wellbeing Week 2018. In addition, senior leaders participated in the Kinesis programme, bringing new ways of working into the company.

In order to attract technical talent, the Code4Life initiative continued, reporting more than 13,100 user interactions. Roche was recognised again as a top employer in the science industry by several organisations such as the Top Employers Institute and the Great Place to Work Institute.

30 %

of key leadership positions now held by women

22 %

of key leaders with diverse work experience


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Tags: Results