125 years of making a difference in the lives of millions

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Delivering innovation for patients

Delivering innovation for patients

Chairman’s letter to shareholders

Dear Shareholders,

Since its founding 125 years ago, Roche has worked to improve the health and lives of countless people all over the world. Our anniversary year was no exception: In 2021 our more than 100,000 employees and our partners developed, manufactured and provided global access to state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments for serious diseases, particularly for COVID-19. My sincere thanks to all of you.

For Roche, innovation has always been about identifying and seizing opportunities. This will remain so in the future as well. Digitalisation has substantially increased the pace of our company’s transformation since I became Chairman of the Board of Directors. We view health data from medical practice as an opportunity to pursue the ongoing development of personalised, and thus even more effective, medicine.

Despite the great medical progress, there is still a huge need and a growing demand for specific diagnostics and effective, better tolerated therapies. Going forward we will once again increase our investment in research and development, even though our R&D expenditure of CHF 13.7 billion last year already exceeds that of any other healthcare company worldwide.

One of Roche’s particular strengths is our long-term mindset. This privilege has a great deal to do with the stability afforded us by the founding families. For this, too, I would like to express my sincere thanks. Thinking sustainably is in our DNA. We are delighted and further motivated to have been selected once again by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices as one of the world’s most sustainable companies in the healthcare sector. We received this recognition in 2021 for the thirteenth year running!

The strong product pipeline and our financial figures confirm that Roche is on the right path. In light of our good performance, the Board of Directors is proposing the 35th consecutive dividend increase.

Roche is very special: focused on science-driven innovation, committed to sustainability, rooted in Switzerland and open to the world.

I would like to thank you, our shareholders, for your confidence and loyalty.

Dr Christoph Franz


At a glance

*All growth rates in this report are at constant exchange rates (CER; average 2020).

Our portfolio through the years

Improving lives has always been at the heart of what we do. And, more than once in our 125-year history, our commitment to innovative science has led to life-changing discoveries for patients.

2021 was no different — with numerous product approvals and launches across Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics, we are continuing to impact the lives of millions around the world.

Major approvals in the Pharmaceuticals Division in 2021

Europe 11

Venclexta/Venclyxto + azacitidine
Actemra/RoActemra (COVID-19)
Ronapreve 2 indications
Xofluza 3 indications

Japan—Chugai 5

Ronapreve 2 indications

US 6


China 11

Avastin 2 indications
Tecentriq + pemetrexed
Xofluza 2 indications

Gender pay equity report

Based on our organisation-wide analysis we found no significant difference in pay between men and women in similar jobs.

Dow Jones Sustainability Indices

Roche has again been recognised as one of the most sustainable companies in the Pharmaceuticals index of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).

Steering towards a sustainable energy future

Roche recognises climate change as one of the largest global risks and addresses it as a matter of urgency. Expert teams, with a problem-to-solution-focused mindset, have been addressing this global issue for more than 15 years.

*All growth rates in this report are at constant exchange rates (CER; average 2020).

Community engagement

For over 100 years, we have remained committed to making a sustainable difference in communities in which we operate, and beyond. It is part of our commitment to society.


International Committee of the Red Cross

We have supported the ICRC for over 100 years. In 2005, we became a founding member of the ICRC Corporate Support Group. We have contributed to water and habitat activities in several countries across Africa. Over one million people have benefited from the access to water initiative in Mali.

Celebrating 125 years

Five generations of being family-led has created a company passionate about finding solutions in science and committed to a better tomorrow.

Every day we celebrate life by constantly reinventing ourselves as we learn more about what patients and caregivers need.

We celebrate life with solutions that are not just quick fixes, but improve access and quality of healthcare for the long haul. We celebrate life by finding new ways of working and partnering across industries and nations to make lasting, systemic change that improves the lives of millions.


Roche is founded by Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche

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Diagnostic solutions — the backbone of treatment decisions

Diagnostic solutions - the backbone of treatment decisions

Diagnostics: the hidden hero

Diagnostics are an integral part of decision-making along every step of a person’s health, wellness or disease journey. A hidden hero. A silent champion. But still undervalued.

The wealth of information we can gather from a small blood or tissue sample is truly astonishing. Some leads to behaviour change, which can keep a person healthy and out of hospital. And some might reveal an imminent threat and lead to a life-saving decision. Small details tell a big story.

Underpinned by the power of self- or in vitro diagnostics, our goal is to encourage people to take notice of any small, unusual, often overlooked changes to their bodies. If any are a cause for concern, they should not ignore it. They should get it checked.

Ultimately, we want everyone to understand that living a long, healthy life is not something that just happens by accident. It takes self-awareness, care and bravery to address even the smallest issues, many of which can be resolved if caught early.

By understanding the small things that can happen in our bodies, we can begin to understand the value that self-awareness and diagnostics can have in keeping us healthy and saving lives.

27 billion

test results produced with our systems


tests and solutions currently in our COVID-19 portfolio

Going for the cure

When Amanda was told she had as little as two weeks to live following her diagnosis of advanced lung cancer, there seemed to be no hope. Biomarker testing, however, revealed that Amanda was eligible for targeted therapy. It was like she “won the lottery”, her oncologist said.

Five years later, Amanda and her family are devoted to supporting other patients. She shares her message of hope and the importance of biomarker testing and accelerated research. “We’re going for the cure.”

I put notes in their lunchboxes every morning — have a great day, Mommy loves you — and I thought, ‘who’s going to write their notes?’ It was devastating.

Amanda Nerstad

A mom with ALK-positive lung cancer

Molecular innovation through the decades

The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly raised awareness of the role diagnostics play in disease prevention and management. Although COVID-19 continues to dominate the healthcare landscape and the pandemic remains a global threat, some countries have made varying degrees of progress towards containing the virus. We are proud of our industry-leading portfolio of 22 COVID-19 solutions, and we remain committed to developing and bringing to market additional tests and solutions to strengthen the global fight against the disease.

Innovative tests and systems, digital insights and enhanced laboratory management solutions are transforming healthcare and improving outcomes. With this new digital era come great opportunities to benefit patients and laboratories around the world. By identifying and developing innovative predictive diagnostics, testing enables early detection and treatment, which can significantly improve outcomes.


Pioneering the use of PCR technology

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The future of healthcare will be increasingly digital, and PCR is no exception

From the initial investment in PCR in the early 1990s until today, Roche has been at the forefront of progress with this powerful technology.

From assays and analytics to hardware, software and robotics, Roche’s drive to improve the diagnostic utility of PCR is extensive. Going forward, Roche will continue to advance the potential of PCR to make real differences in the lives of patients, laboratories and healthcare professionals everywhere.

Last year, more than 27 billion tests were conducted with Roche products. This includes more than 320 million tests to diagnose SARS-CoV-2 infections or measure related antibodies.

The life-changing value of diagnostics

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Transforming lives through diagnostics

Whether it is cancer, infectious diseases or other serious health threats, the quest for better solutions to healthcare’s greatest challenges starts with and depends on diagnostics. At Roche, we are improving lives by not only diagnosing, treating and monitoring disease, but by preventing it in the first place. By helping people understand the value of diagnostics, we hope to change the way every person takes notice of and manages their health.

Driving patient benefit

Driving patient benefit

Joining forces for patients and society

There has never been a more exciting time to transform how we deliver care for patients, and we are committed to exploring uncharted areas to access previously unreachable targets. We, along with our partners, envision a future where the latest and greatest science and technology will drive innovation and unlock the future of healthcare. We know there are two key pillars shaping the future of healthcare: a better understanding of disease biology and advances in data and technology.

Strong partnerships have always been a cornerstone of our work at Roche – approximately half of our medicines are the result of successful collaborations with companies and institutions around the world. The pandemic has drastically altered the scale and urgency needed to develop and distribute COVID-19 treatments and diagnostic tests, leading us to collaborate in new ways and to work at speeds we never could have imagined.



What is SMA?

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare neuromuscular disorder that results in the loss of motor neurons and progressive muscle degeneration. It is usually diagnosed in infancy or early childhood, but may also appear later in life when patients may have a milder course of the disease. The common feature is progressive weakness of voluntary muscles, with arm, leg and respiratory muscles being affected first. The diagnosis of SMA is based on symptoms and confirmed by genetic testing.

I’m a very hands-on person and a challenge does not turn me away.

Liz Adams

Spinal muscular atrophy patient

Milestones in our COVID-19 portfolio

While we do not make vaccines, we realised we could contribute to the fight against COVID-19 in other ways: our scientific knowledge and research expertise of infectious diseases and in antibody-based therapeutics as well as our skilled workforce and specialised manufacturing capabilities.

Explore what we achieved in 2021:


New phase III data showed that Ronapreve reduced hospitalisation or death by 70% in non-hospitalised patients with COVID-19

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Risk-takers in science

Dr Stephen Hauser’s research was met with scepticism in the scientific community, but Genentech took the risk to embark on a partnership that would forever change our understanding of multiple sclerosis.

For years, the origin of multiple sclerosis – also known as MS – was a mystery. The autoimmune disease, which affects approximately 2.8 million people globally, causes the progressive deterioration of the central nervous system. Over time, the patient’s mobility, cognition and vision become impaired.

Scientists were able to identify T-cells – elements of the body’s immune system – as the primary culprit. They determined that in people living with MS, T-cells attacked the protective sheath around the brain called myelin, leading to localised inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord. As a result, treatments for MS focused primarily on targeting T-cells.

Approximately 2.8 million people globally are affected by multiple sclerosis.

125 Years of Wonderful Stories of Science

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Shaping the next 125 years of science

The pace at which new drugs are discovered and developed is rapidly increasing. Ten years ago, most medicines focused mainly on small molecules, then antibodies, proteins, and peptides. Nowadays, the range of therapeutic modalities is a lot broader. Again ten years from now, healthcare will benefit from a larger variety of treatment options that we are currently only at the cusp of understanding.

Striving for improved access to healthcare around the world

Striving for improved access to healthcare around the world

Access is at the heart of our business

We know that life-changing innovation is only meaningful if it reaches those who need it. Access is at the heart of our business and our mission is clear: to ensure that Roche, working together with healthcare systems, can deliver rapid, broad and sustainable patient access to our innovations.

> 3 million

people on Roche patient support programmes

EMPOWER programme: Kenya

The EMPOWER programme seeks to contribute to the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment with standard care of breast and cervical cancer and to the education on this matter of women in the community. More than 26,000 patients tested in ten clinics.

Roche is working in partnership with Women 4 Cancer, the County First Ladies Association, the African Cancer Institute and International Cancer Institute to create clinics in each participating county, providing state-of-the-art testing, diagnosis and treatment to patients.

Hepatitis C diagnosis: Pakistan

Roche is working in partnership with Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi and The Health Foundation to benefit 36,000 underprivileged patients over two years, through contribution of resources, including hepatitis C tests and, training.

In addition, in Pakistan, Roche is also collaborating with the Working Women Welfare Trust to raise awareness related to timely screening, diagnosis and management of diseases pertaining to women’s health.

When words save lives

Agnès Kraidy is a journalist, an author and an activist from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. She is also a breast cancer survivor campaigning for every woman to have access to diagnostics, medicines and, above all, information.

I felt a lump in my left breast. Very small, but clearly noticeable.

Agnès Kraidy

Journalist and breast cancer survivor

Access throughout the years

Since entering the diagnostics space in 1968, Roche has had a strong focus on infectious diseases. Following the identification of HIV in the 1980s, we were at the forefront of developing diagnostic tests for HIV, particularly molecular tests for early infant diagnosis and viral load testing to monitor treatment response. This revolutionised the management and care of HIV-positive patients.

To enable equitable access to HIV testing, and to support the UNAIDS 2030 targets, we created the Global Access Program in 2014. Through this programme, we provide sustainable pricing to governments and funders and work with partners to build the infrastructure and capabilities required to run diagnostic programmes.

Each year, over eight million people in Africa use Roche’s viral load testing to manage their HIV infection and to date over 11 million babies have been tested for HIV.

Over 8 million people in Africa use Roche’s viral load testing to manage their HIV infection.

Over 11 million babies in Africa have been tested for HIV with Roche tests to date.

Partnering to increase access to healthcare in Kenya

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Increasing access for the future

Our new goal is to double the number of patients receiving our innovative therapies in low- and lower-middle-income countries by the end of 2026.

Now more than ever, it is important and urgent for us to acknowledge our shared responsibility to build resilient and sustainable healthcare systems. We believe that comprehensive universal health coverage helps support stable economies and strong societies, and is fundamental to addressing inequality in access to healthcare, particularly in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

We are accelerating our ongoing efforts in this area with our goal to double the number of patients receiving our innovative therapies in low- and lower-middle-income countries by the end of 2026, and it remains our ambition to double patient access to novel, high-medical-value diagnostic solutions to people around the world.

The future of healthcare lies in tailor made solutions

The future of healthcare lies in tailor made solutions

The future of healthcare lies in personalised solutions

Improving lives has always been at the heart of what we do. And, more than once in our 125-year history, our commitment to innovative science has led to life-changing discoveries for patients. Recently, we have focused much of our attention on developing new technologies that can enable us to personalise healthcare.

We are optimising the strengths of our independent affiliates, such as Flatiron Health and Foundation Medicine, and partnering with external stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem to help deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.

More than 100

countries with Foundation Medicine services

How genomic profiling is personalising cancer treatment

Genomic profling helps doctors tailor treatment to a patient’s unique tumour based on its individual fingerprint. The process can detect, from a tissue or blood sample, mutations in a cancer’s DNA which may be driving its growth and identify specific treatments that can target that individual tumour. This allows doctors to refine and tailor treatment based on the mutation rather than the location of the cancer in the body.

I was more scared about telling my family and the impact it would have on my daughters.

Mary Bodley

Breast cancer patient

A turning point in cancer treatment

For most of the last century, cancer was categorised only by its location in the body. As a result, treatment results varied significantly.

In September 1998, the FDA approved Roche and Genentech’s breast cancer therapy, Herceptin. In many regards, that approval marked a turning point in cancer treatment. The monoclonal antibody was specifically designed to treat patients with metastatic breast cancer whose tumours overexpress the HER2 protein.

Herceptin was not only the first targeted treatment for a solid tumour, but also the first drug to be paired with a companion diagnostic. By identifying patients with an improved risk-benefit profile, those patients gained critical time that would otherwise have been spent in search of a viable treatment.

The approval of Herceptin was a turning point in cancer treatment.


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Making personalised healthcare accessible for everyone

As part of our goal of expanding personalised healthcare, we have shifted from treating diseases to focusing on a holistic, people-centric approach that spans the entire care continuum. This change entails a fundamental shift in the ways we understand and deliver healthcare.

More than two decades have passed since Roche took its first steps into the field of personalised healthcare. Those initial efforts have led us to where we are today — delivering innovative personalised solutions that help millions of people around the globe. Today, personalised healthcare is embedded across our organisation. We maintain a clear focus on the entire care continuum, and on our goal of making personalised healthcare accessible to everyone.


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