CEO’s letter to shareholders

For the last time as CEO, Severin Schwan shares his thoughts on the progress we have made for patients and society and our advances in digital healthcare.

Dear Shareholders

Overall, we achieved good results last year. This is primarily due to the continued strong demand for routine diagnostics and our newer medicines to treat serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis, haemophilia, severe eye diseases, spinal muscular atrophy and cancer.

The development and delivery of pioneering medicines and diagnostics is at the heart of our mission. Innovations from Roche improve the lives of people worldwide: in 2022, 29 billion tests were performed with our diagnostic products, delivering crucial information on disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. And millions of patients were treated with Roche medicines.

I am particularly pleased with our recent successes in ophthalmology: Vabysmo is a novel treatment for certain severe eye diseases. Launched at the beginning of 2022, a large number of patients already have access to this innovative eye medicine. Vabysmo became one of our most important growth drivers in just a few months.

Last year, we were also able to provide patients with two important medicines for blood cancer: Lunsumio gives hope to people with a certain form of follicular lymphoma. This blood cancer develops slowly, but has been incurable up to now. Our new immunotherapy activates the body’s own immune system – a promising new approach to blood cancer. Polivy significantly improves the chances of curing a particularly aggressive form of blood cancer. For two decades, research in this area made little progress, so this is a real medical breakthrough.

Another highlight: our cancer immunotherapy Tecentriq has now also been approved in Europe and other countries for the treatment of early-stage lung cancer. For many people this raises the prospect of a cure.

Innovative research and development does not only carry opportunities, but also risks. In addition to many successes, we also experienced setbacks last year – first and foremost the disappointing study data on gantenerumab in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Such setbacks are not a reason to give up, but part of the often long, iterative research and development processes in our industry. We learn from the study data and implement these lessons in the next study. Roche has other molecules against Alzheimer’s in development. We will continue to have the entrepreneurial courage to invest in particularly high-risk research areas such as Alzheimer’s and hope that we will ultimately achieve a breakthrough for patients.

Innovative diagnostic solutions enable early and reliable decision-making, whether in infectious diseases, cancer or other diseases. With the PCR test kits developed in record time for the detection of the mpox virus, we have proven once again – after COVID-19 – that we are able to respond quickly to new public health threats.

Certain human papillomaviruses (HPV) may cause cervical cancer. Our new HPV self-sampling solution offers women the possibility to take the cervical samples needed for HPV testing themselves while at a healthcare facility.

This solution can help break down barriers to screening for cervical cancer. The new HCV Duo assay can also help prevent cancer, as well as other diseases caused by hepatitis C. The assay provides both antigen and antibody results in one test, thus helping diagnose hepatitis C faster.

We have also further expanded our digital health business. For example, our new digital solution for pathology now delivers high-resolution digital images of tissue samples even faster. The evaluation is not carried out using a microscope, but electronically. Artificial intelligence now often sees more than the human eye. This makes it easier to diagnose cancer and enables more targeted and effective treatment for the patient concerned.

In fragmented healthcare systems, medical knowledge is often untapped today because of inadequate digitalisation. That’s where our cloud-based platform cobas infinity edge comes into play. It enables nursing staff and doctors to securely share patient data from multiple sources and brings together a range of health data, such as electronic patient records, third-party apps, and point-of-care services.

The digital transformation is bringing about huge advances for patients. With pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and digital solutions under one roof, Roche is very well positioned to perform pioneering work in this field – and not for the first time in our more than 125-year history.

I would like to thank all our employees for their tireless commitment in this challenging year.

And I would like to thank our Chairman, Christoph Franz, for his many years of confidence-inspiring work. He has always been passionate about ensuring that our products and solutions reach the people who desperately need them – no matter where they live.

Thomas Schinecker will take over my role as CEO from mid-March. I would like to thank him for his outstanding work as Head of the Diagnostics Division and look forward to continue working with him.

Thank you, dear shareholders, for your trust in our company.

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