Pharmaceuticals maker Roche Holding AG reported a 6 percent increase in first quarter sales Thursday with strong performance by its anti-cancer drugs such as Avastin.
The Basel, Switzerland-based drug maker said sales grew to 12.3 billion Swiss francs ($11.6 billion) from 11.6 billion francs in the first three months of 2009.
Roche said sales of anti-cancer drugs Avastin and MabThera, known in the U.S. and Canada as Rituxan, rose 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Its third billion-dollar anti-cancer drug, Herceptin, sold 11 percent more during the quarter.
Sales of Tamiflu rose 32 percent during the tail end of the northern hemisphere's flu season. Year-ago sales of Tamiflu were unaffected by the swine flu outbreak, which occurred in the second quarter of 2009.
Roche said sales of CellCept, a drug given to transplant patients to prevent organ rejection, dropped 28 percent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration added warning labels to CellCept and drugs made by other companies after receiving reports of patients developing dangerous viral infections.
The diagnostics division increased sales by 7 percent to 2.5 billion francs.
"Roche had a strong start to the year that was far above the global pharmaceutical industry average," wrote analysts at Zuercher Kantonalbank.
Shares in Roche, which reports profit figures only for the half year and full year, rose 2.3 percent to 176.60 francs ($166.64).
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