Swiss pharmaceutical sales slip despite coronavirus testing blitz

Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche, which has been at the forefront of deploying coronavirus tests and research into treatments, said Thursday its first half profit and sales both dipped as consumers put off treatment.

Swiss pharmaceutical sales slip despite coronavirus testing blitz
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The appreciation of the Swiss franc, seen as a safe haven investment during times of trouble, also played a role as both profit and sales rose marginally when changes in exchange rates are stripped out.

Net profit slid by 5 percent from the same period last year to 8.5 billion Swiss francs ($9.1 billion, 7.9 billion euros) in the first six months of this year.

At constant exchange rates it represents a gain of 3 percent. Same story for sales, a 4 percent slide in overall sales in Swiss francs to 29.3 billion is a 1 percent gain at constant exchange rates.

READ: Swiss government to cover costs of coronavirus tests for all app users 

The sales figure came in lower than the 30.2 billion consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Swiss business news agency AWP.

“The uptake of our recently introduced (coronavirus) medicines and diagnostic tests continues to be strong,” said CEO Severin Schwan in the company's earnings statement.

“At the same time, Roche's regular business was significantly impacted by the pandemic in the second quarter.”

Thus, sales of its tests for novel coronavirus made a positive contribution, but the pandemic saw sales of other diagnostic equipment fall due to “delays of patients visiting physicians”, the company said. Schwan said “we now see clear signs of recovery.”

The firm confirmed its outlook for the year, which is for a low- to mid-single digit rise in sales at constant exchange rates. It said core earnings per share are likely to increase in line with sales, and it aims to increase its dividend.

Roche shares shed 1.9 percent to 332.4 Swiss francs in early trading in a flat Swiss market.

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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?