2023 was both a demanding and a successful year for Roche – with strong business performance, promising medical advances and key partnerships and acquisitions.
This was also the year in which the World Health Organization declared the end of the coronavirus pandemic. We at Roche are proud of the significant contributions we made towards achieving this objective.
The return to normality consequently led to a decline in our COVID-19 sales. Given this, our annual result is all the more impressive: with sales of CHF 58.7 billion – an increase of 1% at constant exchange rates – we more than offset the decline in COVID-19 sales and the impact of biosimilar/generic erosion. Overall, we were able to compensate more than CHF 6.4 billion – which is more than 10% of our sales. This success is rooted in our strong base business (without COVID-19 products), which grew by 8% thanks to the high demand for our newer diagnostics and medicines.
One particular highlight is Vabysmo, an innovative medicine for the treatment of eye diseases that can lead to blindness. Around 70 million people worldwide currently suffer from ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular oedema or retinal vein occlusion. For many elderly people, Vabysmo already offers new hope: it may help them to maintain – or even regain – eyesight and thus independence. Vabysmo made a significant contribution to the company’s growth in 2023 and has been one of the most successful product launches in Roche’s history.
We have also achieved other important milestones for patients in 2023. Our innovative immunotherapies Columvi and Lunsumio, both bispecific antibodies aimed at activating the body’s own immune system, opened up new avenues in the combat against blood cancer. Columvi has shown promising results for people with an aggressive form of blood cancer who have already received several treatments and are in urgent need of new options. Lunsumio offers new promise to patients with a special type of follicular lymphoma, a disease that progresses slowly and has been incurable until now.
The positive phase III data for Alecensa and inavolisib in lung and breast cancer, respectively, are further highlights. Alecensa – which is already effective in a specific form of advanced lung cancer – now offers the chance of cure to those in the early stages of the disease. Inavolisib could prove to be a medical breakthrough for a form of advanced, hard-to-treat breast cancer.
At Roche, we have a long tradition of complementing our own research and development activities with external partnerships. 2023 was no different: by partnering with Alnylam, we gained access to an investigational therapeutic for treating high blood pressure, a disease that affects 1.2 billion people and cannot be adequately controlled with treatments currently available. With Telavant, we acquired a potential treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and other immune-mediated diseases. In addition, our acquisition of Carmot has the potential to enrich our portfolio with a range of programmes in obesity and other metabolic disorders.
It is well-known that you can only treat what you know. Patient care always begins with a diagnosis – its importance is immense. Modern diagnostics are pivotal for early detection of diseases and targeted treatments, for example in infection-related conditions such as sepsis. Often called blood poisoning, sepsis is a leading cause of death in newborns. With Elecsys IL-6, the world’s first immunoassay for the diagnosis of sepsis in newborns, we are setting a new standard in the fight against this severe condition.
Early diagnosis and treatment monitoring are also crucial for neurological diseases. In 2023, Roche made significant progress in this area. For example, our Elecsys NfL test obtained ‘Breakthrough Device Designation’ from the FDA. This minimally invasive test helps to detect disease activity in certain forms of multiple sclerosis and could therefore support better disease management.
We also launched the navify Algorithm Suite, a ‘digital library’ of medical algorithms that help improve clinical decision-making through the combination of different data points. This library is already enabling better diagnoses in cardiology and oncology and is being continuously expanded.
We have achieved a lot, and I would like to thank all of our more than 100,000 employees worldwide for their outstanding commitment to improving patients’ lives!
2023 also marks my first year as CEO of Roche, a time full of exciting new challenges and opportunities. During these months, I had many in-depth, extensive and rewarding conversations with colleagues, customers, patients and other stakeholders to listen and learn.
In these conversations, two important insights were reaffirmed. First, at Roche we work with fantastic people who are passionate about our company and mission. I am honoured to have been part of this team for over 20 years. Second, innovation remains at the core of our company. Over the past ten years, we have brought more than 20 new medicines to patients and thus successfully diversified our portfolio. Today, we are leading not only in cancer treatments but also in neuroscience, ophthalmology and haemophilia A. We are also the market leader in in-vitro diagnostics.
In order to keep delivering innovative medicines and diagnostics, it is clear that research-driven companies like Roche must continue to push scientific frontiers.
Therefore, my personal focus during the first few months as CEO was to work with our teams to find ways to further strengthen our pipeline and ability to innovate. Together, we have laid the foundation for the future. One example is digitalisation, which includes the increased use of artificial intelligence at all stages of the drug development process.
Strengthening our research and development engine also forms the basis for increasing the value of our company. At Roche – with pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and digital solutions under one roof – we are uniquely positioned to continue to develop breakthrough innovations for patients around the world.
I would like to thank everyone who worked with us in 2023 to improve the lives of patients. And thank you, our valued shareholders, for the trust you have placed in our company.
CEO Roche Group
Unless otherwise stated, all growth rates and comparisons to the previous year are at constant exchange rates (CER; average rates 2022) and all total figures quoted are reported in CHF. | Biosimilars/generics for Avastin, Herceptin, MabThera/Rituxan, Lucentis and Esbriet
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