Roche sales up 5 percent amid rush for Tamiflu, cancer drugs

Swiss drug giant Roche said Thursday that heightened demand for its Tamiflu drug amid a severe flu season, as well as for its cancer medicines had sent its first-quarter sales up five percent, beating analyst expectations.

During the first three months of the year, the company said its overall sales shot up to 11.6 billion Swiss francs ($12.4 billion, 9.5 billion euros).

Analysts polled by Swiss financial news agency AWP had expected it to rake in 11.4 billion francs during the period.

"We got off to a very good start in 2013 due to strong organic growth," Roche chief executive Severin Schwan said in a statement.

The growth was largely due to a spike in Tamiflu sales amid a difficult in the United States especially, as well as rising demand for its main cancer treatments, which helped push sales in the company's all-important Pharma division up 6.0 percent, to 9.1 billion Swiss francs.

Roche's Diagnostics division meanwhile saw more modest growth, with sales up just 1.0 percent from the same period in 2012 at 2.4 billion francs.

During the first quarter, Roche also launched two to fight , Kadcyla in the United States and Perjeta in Europe.

"Based on the first quarter results, I am confident we will meet our full-year targets," Schwan said, confirming Roche's forecast at the end of January that it will this year see sales rise at the same rate as in 2012, when they were up about 4.0 percent.

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