ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG posted an 8 percent rise in third-quarter sales and confirmed its outlook for rising sales and profit this year as its new breast cancer drugs picked up momentum.
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The world's largest maker of cancer drugs said quarterly sales rose to 11.57 billion Swiss francs ($12.63 billion), compared with the average analyst forecast of 11.54 billion francs in a Reuters poll.
Roche's drugs business has so far been shielded from a wave of patent expiries that have hit rivals, as most of its top-selling medicines are biotech drugs consisting of proteins derived from living organisms that are hard to copy and command higher prices.
Sales of its older cancer medicines Rituxan and Herceptin continued to gain momentum in the quarter, rising 12 percent and 7 percent respectively, while Avastin benefited from increased use in ovarian and colorectal cancer.
This helped to offset weaker sales of hepatitis C treatment Pegasys, which tumbled 16 percent.
The Basel-based drugmaker has developed follow-on medicines - improved versions of its top-sellers - which it hopes will help it fend off anticipated competition from so-called biosimilar copies when its older drugs go off patent.
Among those newer drugs, Roche said sales of Kadcyla, a treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer which won U.S. approval in February, were 156 million francs in the first nine months of the year, up from 83 million in the first half.
The company plans to use Kadcyla with fellow new medicine Perjeta, which has sales of 186 million francs.
The Basel-based firm reiterated its expectation for full-year sales to grow in line with 2012, when they rose 4 percent in local currencies, and core earnings to rise ahead of revenues. It also expects to further increase its dividend in 2013.
Roche, which does not detail quarterly profits, is the first European drugmaker to report this quarter. ($1 = 0.9160 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by David Cowell)
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