Roche pipeline close-up will focus on PhIII blockbusters

Roche investors are expected to pay particularly close attention at tomorrow's pipeline review day, when top execs for the pharma giant will try to put the best face possible on its new drug prospects.

This is the first pipeline review since Roche absorbed Genentech, and analysts will be looking to see whether the pharma giant's recent minor setbacks with programs like the rheumatoid arthritis drug ocrelizumab can be overshadowed by the promise presented by its new biotech arm and a slate of potential blockbusters. Unlike most of its Big Pharma competitors, Roche doesn't face a big patent cliff. And that has helped bolster its stock price. Now the analysts want to know how well positioned Roche is for the future.

"Investor expectations are high for this event and Roche does not have much margin for error, given the series of minor setbacks recently and the disappointment on 2009 sales," Natixis analysts said in a note.

The Genentech acquisition, though, is so recent that it's hard to see how Roche can blow it at this stage. Drug development is a notoriously slow process, and that gives Roche plenty of breathing space for completing the absorption process without much critical heat. So you can expect most of the attention to center on Roche's three late-stage blockbuster programs: dalcetrapib, aleglitazar and RG1678.

- here's the notice from Roche
- read the analysis from Reuters