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Roche boosts dividend on higher profits

Swiss drug giant Roche said on Wednesday its net profit rose by two percent last year to 9.8 billion francs ($10.6 billion) and said it was increasing its dividend.

Roche boosts dividend on higher profits
Photo: Roche

The Basel-based company said its overall sales rose by four percent measured at constant exchange rates to 45.5 billion francs, aided by strong sales of cancer drugs and diagnostic tests to laboratories.

The results were slightly better than the consensus of analysts forecast by Swiss financial news agency AWP, which expected net profit of 9.65 billion francs on sales of 45.4 billion francs.

 Last year "was a very good year for Roche," chief executive Severin Schwan said in a statement.

 "We met our financial targets, grew faster than the market, and our strong pipeline positions us well for further growth," he said.

Schwan pointed to the approval last year of Roche's breast cancer medicine Perjeta, with another breast cancer treatment nearing market.

Roche said it expected similar sales growth in 2013 with core earnings to rise even faster.
 
The company's board proposed increasing the dividend for 2012 by eight percent to 7.35 francs and foresaw increasing the dividend further in 2013.

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ROCHE

Swiss-American antibody drug ‘effective at preventing Covid infection’

US biotech firm Regeneron and its Swiss partner Roche unveiled promising clinical trial results Monday indicating that an antibody treatment used to treat Covid-19 patients also helps prevent infections.

Swiss-American antibody drug 'effective at preventing Covid infection'
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The results of the Phase 3 trial showed that the combination of the antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab dramatically reduced the risk of symptomatic infection among people living with Covid-19 patients, Roche said in a statement.

The trial entailed injecting 1,505 people not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus but living in households with people carrying the virus with the Regeneron antibody cocktail or a placebo.

READ MORE: Why are vaccination appointments still vacant in Zurich?

The trial, which was conducted in cooperation with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, showed that those who received the antibody cocktail saw their risk of symptomatic infection reduced by 81 percent, the companies said.

It also indicated that those treated with casirivimab and imdevimab who did experience symptomatic infection on average saw their symptoms clear within one week — far faster than the three-week average for those who received the placebo.

In a separate part of the study, 204 people who had recently tested positive for Covid-19 but showed no symptoms received either a dose of the antibody cocktail or a placebo.

Those who received the cocktail saw their risk of developing symptoms reduced by 31 percent compared to the placebo group, the companies said.

“Today’s data confirm the potential dual value of casirivimab and imdevimab to reduce household Covid-19 infections and to decrease the disease burden in those who do become infected, when given as a subcutaneous option,” Levi Garraway, Roche’s chief medical officer said in a statement.

“Although vaccinations are increasing globally, there remains a critical unmet need worldwide to prevent infections and provide immediate protection from Covid-19 between close contacts,” he said.

EXPLAINED: How Switzerland is speeding up its vaccination programme

Regeneron president and chief scientist George Yancopoulos agreed, pointing out that in the United States alone, 60,000 people are being diagnosed with Covid-19 every day.

The antibody cocktail “may help provide immediate protection to unvaccinated people who are exposed to the virus”, he said in a statement, adding that it could also potentially “provide ongoing protection for immunocompromised patients who may not respond well to vaccines”.

Regeneron said it would present the data to the US Food and Drug Administration and request it clear the Covid antibody cocktail for use as a preventative treatment.

The companies said they would share the new data with health regulators worldwide.

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