Roche CEO offers his vision for new R&D era

While trying his best to put a positive spin on some lackluster fourth-quarter numbers, Roche CEO Severin Schwan (photo) talked up the lessons learned from the big Genentech acquisition. Roche, a consensus-oriented Swiss pharma company, is adopting Genentech's lean-and-mean approach to drug development, he told reporters, giving lower-level managers more decision-making power as it speeds up the R&D process.

Schwan also likes to talk about the potential of new drug discovery work, emphasizing the company's commitment to what he sees as the dawning of a new age of discovery. Rather than muscle his way into generics and OTC products, Schwan says biopharma is at the threshold of a major breakthrough with targeted medications.

He adds: "That is why I believe that we are at the beginning of a revolution."

The investors' response: Roche shares dropped close to 2 percent after they saw the company's costs had gone up last year. A bright vision, it seems, is no substitute for a positive trend line on the numbers side.

- here's the report from the Wall Street Journal