Roche sees isolated cases of Tamiflu resistance
* In line with observations in studies
* Repeats forecast 2009 Tamiflu sales of 2 bln Swiss francs
* Says business in good shape, even excluding Tamiflu
* Stock near flat
(Adds more comment on sales, business, shares)
By Sam Cage and Paul Arnold
BASEL, Switzerland, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Isolated cases of resistance to Roche Holding AG's (ROG.VX) Tamiflu are likely to occur in pandemic H1N1 swine flu, in line with what has been seen in clinical trials, a Roche executive said on Monday.
Roche has said signs of resistance to Tamiflu are no surprise, given this happens also in seasonal flu. The drug netted sales of just over 1 billion Swiss francs ($946 million) in the first half and Roche confirmed it expects similar in the second six months of 2009.
"Isolated cases of Tamiflu-resistant pandemic H1N1 2009 are expected in line with observations from the low frequency seen in clinical studies," David Reddy, Roche pandemic taskforce leader, told a media conference.
William Burns, who heads the Roche drugs unit, said the group's underlying business was in good shape even without the unexpected bonus of Tamiflu sales. The group upped its forecasts for 2009 and 2010 when it reported strong first half results in July. [ID:nLM233133]
The pandemic H1N1 flu virus continues to cause widespread infection in many parts of the world but is not becoming more serious, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.
The WHO said it had counted 2,837 deaths worldwide but noted that not every case was being counted any more. [ID:nL4442852]
Roche's Japanese subsidiary Chugai Pharmaceutical Co (4519.T) plans to boost supply of Tamiflu in Japan to treat an additional 12 million people through March 2010. [ID:nT323289]
Roche stock was almost unchanged at 165.70 francs by 0955 GMT, just lagging the DJ Stoxx European healthcare index .SXDP ($1=1.057 Swiss Franc) (Reporting by Sam Cage and Paul Arnold; Editing by David Holmes and Simon Jessop)
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