Over much of the last year Roche, a standard bearer in the world of drug development, went through a rough patch as analysts fretted over sliding cancer drug sales and the common enemy of all Big Pharma companies: approaching generic competition. But fresh off its early regulatory win for the likely blockbuster Zelboraf--a melanoma drug developed in collaboration with Plexxikon originally and now partnered with Daiichi Sankyo--the analysts have become bullish again about Roche's new drug prospects. And in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, CEO Severin Schwan played the visionary, insisting that Roche's best days lie ahead as targeted drugs tied to new diagnostics gain ground.
"There are people who would argue that all the low-hanging fruits have been harvested and that the pharmaceutical industry is at an end," Schwan tells the WSJ. But he won't have any of it. "I believe there are enormous opportunities in this industry as we are only now beginning to understand how diseases are working."
Schwan also highlighted the company's top three blockbuster drug prospects: the lung-cancer treatment Metmab and the asthma compound lebrikizumab--both now entering late-stage studies--and the breast-cancer drug pertuzumab, slated for regulatory filings in the U.S. and Europe later this year.
"If approved, the drugs could be used to treat hundreds of thousands of patients and could have blockbuster potential," Schwan says. "But of course, these experimental compounds need to prove themselves first."
- here's the WSJ article