* Roche CEO confident will meet new drugs sales goal
* Sees pharma unit gaining market share
ZURICH, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche's ROG.VX pharma and diagnostics units will significantly outpace the market this year, the group's head was quoted as saying in an interview on Wednesday.
Roche is also confident it will reach its recently raised sales growth target for its pharma division of at least high-single digit growth, chief executive Severin Schwan told Swiss weekly Handelszeitung in an interview.
Schwan said he was confident the pharma unit would gain market share thanks to its strong drugs pipeline, adding the group would announce 2010 targets for the unit at the start of next year.
Roche, the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, posted a forecast-beating 10 percent rise in third-quarter sales last month, helped by demand for Tamiflu due to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. [ID:nLD628052]
Schwan said the group’s pharma unit was still growing faster than the market, even when excluding Tamiflu sales -- likely to be above 2.7 billion Swiss francs ($2.67 billion) this year -- and Roche’s key cancer drugs were seeing double-digit growth.
Schwan said Avastin, which had annual global sales of 5.2 billion Swiss francs in 2008, still had considerable potential, with over 450 trials running on more than 30 different cancer types.
Separately on Wednesday, Roche said it had filed for European approval to extend the use of Avastin to patients with metastatic breast cancer in combination with a broader range of standard chemotherapies.[ID:nGEE5AO05D]
Roche sealed a $47 billion buyout of U.S. partner Genentech earlier this year. Schwan said the group was now looking for small and mid-sized acquisitions.
The group repaid 7 billion francs of debt from the Genentech buyout in the third quarter and Schwan said the group would be able to get rid of 25 percent of its debt next year and have a positive net-cash position by 2015.
Schwan said Roche was sticking to its dividend policy despite the Genentech deal. Roche paid a dividend of 5 francs this year.
Roche stock was trading up 0.24 percent at 167.80 Swiss francs, slightly underperforming a 0.6 percent rise in the European pharmaceuticals sector .SXDP (Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 1.013 Swiss francs) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +41 58 306 7320; Reuters Messaging:email@example.com))
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