Investor Update

Basel, 20 October 2021

[Ad hoc announcement pursuant to Art. 53 LR] Roche reports strong growth in the first nine months – outlook for 2021 raised

  • Group sales up 8%1 at constant exchange rates (CER); 6% in Swiss francs
  • Pharmaceuticals Division sales grow 5% in the third quarter and are now in line with the prior year for the first nine months; continued strong growth of newly launched medicines
  • Diagnostics Division sales grow 18% in the third quarter and 39% in the first nine months due to high demand for COVID-19 tests, a strong recovery in the base business and the newly launched diagnostics platforms
  • Highlights in the third quarter:
    • FDA approves cancer immunotherapy Tecentriq (early-stage lung cancer) and grants Priority Review for eye medicine faricimab
    • Positive study results for Polivy (blood cancer) and Ronapreve (COVID-19)
    • FDA grants Breakthrough Therapy Designation to gantenerumab (Alzheimer's disease); final study results expected in second half of 2022
    • Share purchase agreement with long-term partner TIB Molbiol to expand molecular diagnostics portfolio
  • Outlook raised

*Asia-Pacific, EEMEA (Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa), Latin America, Canada, others

CEO Severin Schwan on the results: “The demand for coronavirus tests remained high in the third quarter due to the Delta variant. Together with the recently launched medicines and diagnostics platforms they contributed to the strong sales growth. We also made significant progress in our product pipeline in the third quarter, including with Polivy, the first medicine in 20 years to significantly improve outcomes in a form of aggressive blood cancer. Based on the results achieved so far, we are raising our outlook for the full year.”

Outlook raised for 2021

Sales are now expected to grow in the mid-single digit range, at constant exchange rates (before: in the low to mid-single digit range). Core earnings per share are targeted to grow broadly in line with sales, at constant exchange rates. Roche expects to increase its dividend in Swiss francs further.

Group results

Group sales increased by 8% (6% in CHF) to CHF 46.7 billion in the first nine months of the year.

Pharmaceuticals Division sales remained stable at CHF 33.4 billion. Since summer there have been signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the biosimilar impact is slowing down as expected (Pharma sales: -9% in the first quarter, +4% in the second quarter and +5% in the third quarter).

In the United States, sales declined by 5% over the first nine months, with stable year-on-year sales since the summer.

Competition from biosimilars for the established cancer medicines MabThera/Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin led to an overall decline, partly offset by sales of Actemra/RoActemra, Hemlibra, Ocrevus and Tecentriq, as well as for Evrysdi (spinal muscular atrophy) and Phesgo (breast cancer), which were launched only last year. 

Sales in Europe increased by 3%. Sales growth of new medicines (Ronapreve, Ocrevus, Hemlibra and Kadcyla) more than offset the impact of biosimilars. 

In Japan, sales increased by 20%. Growth was driven by the new medicines Ronapreve, Tecentriq, Enspryng and Hemlibra. This more than offset the impact of biosimilars and government price cuts.

Sales in the International region grew 2%, driven by strong demand for Perjeta and Ronapreve. Sales growth in China (+2%) resulted from continued strong uptake of Perjeta, Alecensa and other innovative cancer medicines.

The Diagnostics Division achieved strong sales growth of 39% to CHF 13.3 billion in the first nine months. Growth was 18% in the third quarter compared to the already very strong third quarter last year. Demand for COVID-19 testing remained high in the third quarter, driven primarily by the Delta variant. As a result, Roche’s industry-leading portfolio of COVID-19 tests again contributed significantly to the division’s overall sales growth.

The base business, still heavily impacted by the pandemic in 2020, showed strong growth in the first nine months of 2021: after a significant recovery in the first half of the year (+17% in the first quarter, 31% in the second quarter), strong growth of 11% was also achieved in the third quarter. 

Sales grew strongly in all regions: Europe, Middle East and Africa +54%, Asia-Pacific +35%, North America +18% and Latin America +63%.

In September Roche signed a definitive share purchase agreement with TIB Molbiol. Roche and TIB Molbiol have been working together for more than 20 years on tests and reagents for pathogens such as SARS, anthrax, MERS, the novel H1N1 swine flu virus and, most recently, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants. This acquisition will add a range of infectious disease tests to Roche’s broad portfolio of molecular diagnostic solutions.

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About Roche

Roche is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. The combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, as well as growing capabilities in the area of data-driven medical insights help Roche deliver truly personalised healthcare. Roche is working with partners across the healthcare sector to provide the best care for each person.

Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. In recent years, Roche has invested in genomic profiling and real-world data partnerships and has become an industry-leading partner for medical insights.

Founded in 1896, Roche continues to search for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and make a sustainable contribution to society. The company also aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. More than thirty medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and cancer medicines. Moreover, for the twelfth consecutive year, Roche has been recognised as one of the most sustainable companies in the Pharmaceuticals Industry by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).

The Roche Group, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, is active in over 100 countries and in 2020 employed more than 100,000 people worldwide. In 2020, Roche invested CHF 12.2 billion in R&D and posted sales of CHF 58.3 billion. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information, please visit

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  1. Unless otherwise stated, all growth rates and comparisons to prior year in this document are at constant exchange rates (CER: average 2020) and all total figures quoted are reported in CHF.

Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements

This document contains certain forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as ‘believes’, ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘projects’, ‘intends’, ‘should’, ‘seeks’, ‘estimates’, ‘future’ or similar expressions or by discussion of, among other things, strategy, goals, plans or intentions. Various factors may cause actual results to differ materially in the future from those reflected in forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report, such as: (1) pricing and product initiatives of competitors; (2) legislative and regulatory developments and economic conditions; (3) delay or inability in obtaining regulatory approvals or bringing products to market; (4) fluctuations in currency exchange rates and general financial market conditions; (5) uncertainties in the discovery, development or marketing of new products or new uses of existing products, including without limitation negative results of clinical trials or research projects, unexpected side effects of pipeline or marketed products; (6) increased government pricing pressures; (7) interruptions in production; (8) loss of or inability to obtain adequate protection for intellectual property rights; (9) litigation; (10) loss of key executives or other employees; and (11) adverse publicity and news coverage. The statement regarding earnings per share growth is not a profit forecast and should not be interpreted to mean that Roche’s earnings or earnings per share for 2020 or any subsequent period will necessarily match or exceed the historical published earnings or earnings per share of Roche.

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