Tamiflu swine flu drug boosts Roche but Genentech takeover dents profits

SWISS drugs firm Roche yesterday booked a massive drop in profits due to its takeover of Genentech &ndash; despite increasing demand for its swine flu treatment Tamiflu.<br /><br />The group said its first half profit fell by 29 per cent to SFr4.1bn (&pound;2.3bn) from SFr5.7bn a year earlier.<br /><br />The drop in profits was mainly due to costs relating to its $47bn takeover of Genentech. But the group said that the acquisition will yield savings of SFr1bn a year by 2011.<br /><br />&nbsp;Chief executive Severin Schwan said: &ldquo;I am especially pleased about the excellent progress we&rsquo;ve made in integrating Roche and Genentech.&rdquo;<br /><br />The group also increased its earnings forecast for the full year. It said it now expects earnings per share to grow at a double digit pace in 2009 and 2010, compared to a prior forecast for no change.<br /><br />It also cheered investors by saying it now expects a sales growth rate close to 10 per cent in 2009.<br /><br />The group yesterday said: &ldquo;We expect 2009 full year sales to grow well ahead of the market.&rdquo;<br /><br />Roche added that drug sales had jumped by 11 per cent in the first half of 2009. Without Tamiflu, the increase would have been seven per cent<br /><br />Sales of Tamiflu jumped by 200 per cent in the period, making SFr1bn (&pound;567m). Roche said Tamiflu production would be expanded to 400m packs annually by early 2010.