Roche raises outlook for 2021 as Delta variant boosts demand for COVID-19 exams

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche in Rotkreuz, Switzerland, April 12, 2012. REUTERS / Michael Buholzer

(Reuters) – Swiss drug maker Roche has raised its sales forecast for 2021 after sales rose 8% in the nine months, driven by demand for COVID-19 testing and the strength of its overall business from newly launched diagnostic platforms and drugs.

Group sales rose in the nine months to September to 46.68 billion Swiss francs (50.54 billion US dollars) from 43.98 billion Swiss francs in the previous year, the Basel-based company announced on Wednesday, while sales in the diagnostics department rose 39 % rose.

"The demand for coronavirus tests remained high in the third quarter due to the Delta variant," said CEO Severin Schwan. There have also been signs of recovery in the pharmaceutical sector since the summer.

Roche, which saw a slowdown in demand for the COVID-19 tests in the second half of the year, is now expecting mid-single-digit sales growth at constant exchange rates. Previously, an increase in the low to mid single-digit percentage range was expected.

A host of new product launches, possibly including an Alzheimer's treatment, if approved by the US authorities, are expected to fuel future Roche sales as the company faces increasing competition for older drugs.

Central studies for the Alzheimer's drug gantenerumab are expected to be completed in the second half of next year, the company announced on Wednesday.

($ 1 = 0.9237 Swiss Francs)

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