Roche boosts 2019 sales outlook, sees Spark deal this year

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A photo showing the logo of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche in Basel.

SEBASTIEN BOZON | AFP | Getty Images

Swiss drugmaker Roche boosted its 2019 sales outlook for a third time, helped by rising Chinese revenue, and said it expects to finish its $4.3 billion takeover of Spark Therapeutics this year despite repeated delays.

Sales are now expected to grow at a high-single-digit rate, at constant exchange rates, up from the mid- to high-single-digit range projected in July, it said on Wednesday.

Sales in the third quarter rose 13% to 15.6 billion Swiss francs ($15.64 billion), the Basel-based drugmaker said, citing a nearly 50% jump in revenue from its multiple sclerosis medicine Ocrevus that reaped 929 million francs. It did not give profit figures.

International third-quarter sales including in China rose 27% to 2.5 billion francs, as Roche made inroads in the world’s most populous country with its older cancer medicines Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan, whose patents in Europe and the United States have expired or will do so soon, exposing them to competition from copies.

“Based on the strong demand for our new medicines and continued progress of our product pipeline we have raised the outlook for 2019 and I am confident that we will continue to grow beyond this year,” Chief Executive Severin Schwan said in a statement.

Roche’s planned purchase of Spark, originally due to have been completed by now, is still undergoing scrutiny from U.S. and British competition regulators, though Roche stuck to its prediction of completing the deal by the end of December.

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