Roche spotlights top late-stage drug prospects in pipeline review

What's Roche willing to bet hundreds of millions of dollars on next year? This morning the pharma giant answered that question by highlighting its 14 late-stage prospects in the pipeline, promising that it has the potential to file for regulatory approval on 10 new molecular entities through 2013. Four of the programs--T-DM1, pertuzumab, GA101/RG7159 and RG7204--are intended to "move the standard of care" while "the glycine reuptake inhibitor RG1678 and ocrelizumab RG1594 have the potential to improve outcomes in diseases such as schizophrenia or multiple sclerosis where new therapies are urgently needed."

"We also see that the concept of personalized healthcare is becoming a reality for more and more of our development projects," said Hal Barron, head of global product development of Roche. "MetMAb and the BRAF inhibitor are two encouraging examples for how personalized therapy could improve outcomes in lung cancer and melanoma, respectively."

Fresh from absorbing Genentech's ($DNA) pipeline, Roche has generally avoided the scathing criticism many big pharma companies face during a pipeline review. This year marked a series of serious R&D setbacks, though, topped by a significant safety problem for the diabetes drug taspoglutide. Reuters is reporting that Roche now plans to make a decision to either push ahead or drop taspoglutide by early February. But analysts still give Roche high marks for its late-stage work.

"The data presented today and at medical conferences over the past months should remind investors that Roche's pipeline is impressively large and has strong opportunities to surprise over the coming two years, despite the setback in 2010," said Andrew Weiss, pharmaceutical analyst at Bank Vontobel.

- read the Roche release
- check out the report from the Wall Street Journal
- and here's the Bloomberg report
- see the Reuters piece on taspo