Roche: Still looking for deals in 2010

Roche intends to keep up its licensing pace even after its massive buyout of Genentech last year, which included gaining access to 16 Phase I or II programs the big Biotech had in its pipeline. Dan Zabrowski, head of the Swiss company's partnering effort, tells Bloomberg that Roche inked 65 deals last year and plans on pursuing just as many in 2010. Most of this year's agreements will be licensing deals, though Zabrowski said a couple of acquisitions are also a possibility.

"One question from the biotech industry after the closure of the Genentech deal was whether we'd be out of the licensing business for a while," Zabrowski tells Bloomberg in an interview. "If anything, what we see is still a high appetite for access to external innovation from our scientists."

Drugs acquired through licensing deals made up about a third of Roche's $46.4 billion in revenue last year, and account for 40 percent of programs currently in development. Part of the company's success attracting partners is that Roche is comfortable developing therapies outside its own labs. For instance, the company's three top-selling drugs--Avastin, MabThera and Herceptin--all originated at Genentech. "Roche got onto the partnering path while other drugmakers were resigned to just inventing drugs in their own labs," says Bank Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss. "Roche wants not only the science but also an interaction with their partners and for them to feel at home."

- here's the report