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Roche Earnings Hit by Biosimilar Competition, COVID-19


Roche attributes a $3.83 billion reduction in sales to biosimilar competition.

Biosimilar competition for Roche added up to a $3.83 billion reduction in sales in the first 9 months of 2020, contributing to a sales decline of 4% in the United States for the pharmaceutical giant.

Roche had a 1% overall decrease in pharmaceutical sales, stating that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic also had a significant effect on revenues for the 9-month period.

Roche markets the originator products Avastin (bevacizumab), Rituxan (rituximab), and Herceptin (trastuzumab), each of which faces international biosimilar competition. In the United States, Roche saw increased sales of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), Hemlibra (emicizumab), Tecentriq (atezolizumab), Actemra/RoActemra (tocilizumab), and Kadcycla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine); however, the US revenues from these products were offset by biosimilar competition, the company noted.

US pharmaceutical sales dropped to $20.1 billion from $21.9 billion for the first 9 months of 2020, an 8% decrease. Japan sales dropped to $3.0 billion from $3.4 billion, a 9% drop. In Europe, sales dropped $6.85 billion vs $6.90 billion, a 1% decrease.

In Europe, Roche’s sales of trastuzumab, bevacizumab, and rituximab declined 32%, 16%, and 32%, respectively. The company largely attributed the drop to biosimilars.

Sales also decreased 6% in Japan “as a result of the considerable competition from biosimilars, generics, COVID-19, and government price cuts,” the company said.

Overall sales erosion from biosimilars was 22% for Avastin, 27% for Rituximab, and 31% for Herceptin. Roche reported strong worldwide sales gains for new products expected to compensate for biosimilar competition, such as Tecentriq, up 64%; Ocrevus, up 29%; Hemlibra, up 79%; and Actemra/RoActemra, up 33%.

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